Before Donald Trump sets about “draining the swamp” in Washington, he might want to consider cleaning the dangerously dirty kitchen at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. The pricey private club that’s been the site of summit meetings since POTUS 45 assumed the presidency in January 2017 failed numerous health code violations in the weeks leading up to a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Three of the Mar-a-Lago Club health code violations were deemed “high priority” and involved inadequate cooling of stored meat and poultry, black mold in an ice machine, and raw fish that had “not undergone proper parasite destruction.” Intermediate heath code violations included lack of hot water at an employee hand washing station, a walk-in cooler in poor repair, and a reach-in cooler that was in such bad condition that the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation forbade Mar-a-Lago from using it to store food.
The temperatures of meats and fish in the walk-in cooler in the Mar-a-Lago kitchen were found to be hazardously high. Despite health regulations that require meat to be stored at no more than 41° F, raw poultry in the Mar-a-Lago coolers tested at 49° F, raw duck at 50° F, and raw beef at 50° F. A ham tested at a bacteria-boosting 57 degrees. Although the DBPR reported that the dangerous kitchen at Mar-a-Lago Club eventually passed inspection on January 26, recent health code infractions were not the first instances of dangerous and dirty kitchen conditions at Donald Trump’s private Palm Beach resort.
On April 13, Robert Reich told his Facebook followers that the kitchen and restaurant at the so-called “Southern White House” failed more than 55 health department inspections during the past four years.
“Trump doesn’t like regulations and he hates government inspectors, but without them any restaurant in America could be as dangerous as the one at Mar-a-Lago. I hope Abe is feeling okay. If not, he shouldn’t blame America. From personal experience I can attest that the food is safe at the White House mess.”
The former secretary of labor explained that by “mess,” he was referring to the restaurant at the White House in Washington, D.C., not to any “current personnel problems there.”
Fox News says that the number of Mar-a-Lago health code violations quoted by Reich is low.
“The January inspections were not the first time inspectors have found problems at Mar-a-Lago. Over the last three years, records show the club has been cited 78 times for violations that included chefs handling food without washing their hands, dirty cutting boards, a slicer soiled with old food debris and an accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the ice machine.”
Even when the dirty kitchen at Mar-a-Lago is clean enough to pass muster, there is still an image of impropriety attached to a prez who holds official events at a resort restricted to the wealthy elite. Former Obama White House ethics attorney Norman Eisen noted that every time president 45 hosts a state dinner at his uber-expensive Florida resort, it is essentially free advertising. Of the Abe visit, he said,
“There remains the fact that this is a free global infomercial for Mar-a-Lago, which has recently announced that it will be doubling its fee from 100k to 200k.”
Speaking on behalf of Sunlight Foundation, John Wonderlich told McKlatchy DC Bureau that Trump’s financial interests are noticeably connected to his decision to host summit meetings, state dinners, and other presidential events at his privately owned Florida resort.
“President Trump should not be giving personal gifts of significant financial value to foreign leaders, and President Trump should be avoiding even the appearance that he is using public office to promote his personal financial interests. By giving Prime Minister Abe a free stay at Mar-a-Lago, he is promoting his commercial brand, and flouting the ethics standards he was elected, in part, to uphold.”
[Featured Image by Frank600/Thinkstock]