PALM BEACH — Just days before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump‘s private club in Palm Beach, Florida restaurant inspectors found potentially dangerous raw fish and cited the club for storing food in two broken down coolers.
Inspectors found 13 violations at the fancy club’s kitchen, according to recently published documents, a record for an institution that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.
Three of the violations were deemed “high priority,” meaning that they could allow the presence of illness-causing bacteria on plates served in the dining room.
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According to their latest visit to the club January 26, state inspectors decided Mar-a-Lago’s kitchen did meet the minimum standards.
But they had a field day with elements that should give members of the allegedly high-class club and foreign dignitaries there some pause:
— Fish designed to be served raw or undercooked, the inspection report reads, had not undergone proper parasite destruction. Kitchen staffers were ordered to cook the fish immediately or throw it out.
— In two of the club’s coolers, inspectors found potentially dangerous raw meats that should be stored at 41 degrees were much too warm: chicken was 49 degrees, duck clocked in a 50 degrees and raw beef was 50 degrees. The winner? Ham was at 57 degrees.
— The club was cited for not maintaining the coolers in proper working order, and was ordered to have them both emptied immediately and repaired.
The other violations weren’t so serious. Those included the fact water at the sink where employees wash their hands was too cold to sanitize hands. And Mar-a-Lago, the so-called Jewel of Palm Beach, was also written up for keeping rusted shelves inside walk-in coolers.
In the past Trump, who has spent most weekend at the club so far this year and hosted Chinese Xi Jinping there last weekend, was often involved personally in the day-to-day operations.
It wasn’t rare to see him check out the kitchen and give directions to the club’s floor personnel.
At the time, Mar-a-Lago passed inspections with flying colors, with one or two violations at most.
But as Trump jumped into presidential politics, so did the number of health violations.
There were 11 last year for just 2 in 2015.
Mar-a-Lago General Manager Bernd Lembcke did not return calls for comment.
However, Stephen Lawson, the communications director for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, who was the communications director for the controversial Enterprise Florida and Gov. Rick Scott‘s Director of Research and Writing emailed us to say: “These infractions were part of a routine inspection and were not complaint-based. The infractions were corrected on site, and the establishment was immediately brought into compliance.”