Inspectors allegedly found rodent droppings throughout West Side Groceries on a recent visit that led to the arrest and charging of owner Hamza A. Abualzain.
Abualzain allegedly ran the store at 605 Stryker Ave. without a license and under unsanitary conditions, according to charges filed Friday in Ramsey County District Court. Abualzain, 34, of Columbia Heights, is charged with one count of gross misdemeanor not having a food handler license, two counts of gross misdemeanor violating food safety by keeping food in unsanitary conditions and one count of misdemeanor violating food safety by misbranding food.
According to the complaint: Inspectors visited the store, also known as the Stryker Market, on July 10 and found the rodent droppings, dirty and broken ceiling tiles, inaccessible and dirty sinks, floors strewn with cigarette butts and trash and water dripping onto food. They also found food stacked on the floor in an inch of standing water and misbranded meat.
Charges show that authorities with the state Department of Agriculture also found similar problems during a routine December 3 inspection. At that time, they also found that raw food was not stored separately from ready-to-eat food and that the store had no sanitizer for cleaning utensils and surfaces that had contact with food.
Abualzain was ordered to rectify the problems and to renew his license, which was due to expire on March 15. But a follow-up inspection on Dec. 10 revealed no improvements, the charges said. Authorities gave Abualzain another order to fix the problems.