Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Health Code Violations Go Viral, Insipidly Blown Out Of Proportion? [Opinion]

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago restaurant was slapped with 15, 13, 10, or two health code violations, depending on which news article you read. It appears the reporting on this health inspection might have been blown out of proportion.

Headlines citing “dangerous fish” and “under-cooled meats” really catch the eye, but in all reality, the health code violations were fixed immediately on the spot in the Mar-a-Lago kitchen. The kitchen never got a failing grade, and the health inspection reads that the kitchen at Mar-a-Lago “met inspection standards,” cites CBS News.

On top of that, the restaurant business at Mar-a-Lago was never interrupted, so those health code violations couldn’t have been as devastating as some of the headlines suggest. This was the January health code inspection, which was the last one done in the resort’s kitchen.

The restaurant’s last inspection was done on January 27 and the violations appear on the website Yelp. The website reports that the Mar-a-Lago passed this inspection. This form cites the following violations.

  • “Clean glasses, cups, bowls, plates, pots and pans not stored inverted or in a protected manner.plates outside by the grill **Corrected On-Site**”
  • “Employee with no hair restraint while engaging in food preparation. **Corrected On-Site**”

The Miami Herald reports “under-cooled meat” and “dangerous fish” in their headlines today. Another headline reports Donald Trump is heading to Mar-a-Lago for Easter Weekend, but they warn he may want to “avoid the kitchen,” which is how the Tampa Bay Times opted to report the story. They also threw in that this is Trump’s “7th trip to Mar-a-Lago” since taking office.

The Mar-a-Lago kitchen having some health code violations seems to be the only thing the news media sites have in common when reporting this story. Fox News reports there were 15 health code violations in total, while other outlets are citing 13 violations, like USA Today, CNN, and the Miami Herald. CBS News reports 10 violations, and Yelp is reporting just two.

Stephen Lawson, who is a spokesman for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, said the health department conducted a routine inspection, which they do with all restaurants. They did not go to Mar-a-Lago due to consumer complaints or any food-borne illness reports — it was just their day and time for an unannounced routine health code inspection.

Lawson said on Thursday, “The infractions were corrected on site, and the establishment was immediately brought into compliance.”

So what were the infractions? According to CBS News, a technician reported the walk-in cooler’s setting was mistakenly set at “defrost.”

This is the cooler that stores the poultry, duck, rice, beef, and ham. Because of the wrong setting, the temperatures were higher than the required 41 degrees. The ham was found to be warmest at 57 degrees. The correction was as easy as turning the temperature to the appropriate setting.

With Lawson stating that the violations were “immediately brought into compliance,” it seems a quick turn of the temperature dial was all that was needed. He did say the “infractions were corrected on site.”

It is important to note that the state health inspectors allowed the Mar-a-Lago restaurants, the main restaurant, and the beach-side grill to remain open as employees fixed the problems that were cited with a violation.

Another violation listed had to do with the water not being hot enough in the sink that employees use for hand washing, reports Fox News. According to the Miami Herald, another violation was found with the smoked salmon being served “without undergoing proper parasite destruction.”

In all reality, the inspector walked in and found the cooler running warmer than it should, and when the technician discovered the control had been inadvertently turned to “defrost,” the temperature was then set to its correct setting. That can happen in any restaurant. The Miami Herald reports the fish that was cited for “not undergoing proper parasite destruction” is the type of fish that is eaten raw. The kitchen staff was told to cook it or throw it out.

In comparison to many other restaurants around the nation, this kitchen actually fared well for the health code inspection. As an example, SF Gate listed 54 businesses in San Francisco alone that failed health code inspections last year. This includes Nick’s Crispy Tacos and Ruby Skye, which are both popular eateries.

Most of these San Francisco businesses received a passing grade during their second inspection after fixing the problems that caused them to receive health code violations. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago restaurant passed the health code inspection, it never failed.

The Miami Herald suggests a correlation between these violations and Trump not having his hand in the Mar-a-Lago daily kitchen activities as much as he did before he ran for president. Trump spent almost every weekend at Mar-a-Lago before putting his hat in the ring for president.

The Herald had this to say.

“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 compared to just two in 2015.”

Even when a restaurant gets closed down for health code violations, there is not as much reporting as there is for Trump’s restaurant receiving violations. If a Mr. John Smith owned Mar-a-Lago, not too many would be interested in these violations because the restaurant passed the inspection. But Mr. John Smith doesn’t own the restaurant, it has a Trump affiliation, and because of this, it becomes national headline news.

[Featured Image by Lynne Sladky/AP Images]