Restaurant Cited for Deer Carcass In Kitchen

Michael Zennie, Greencastle (Indiana) Banner, October 27, 2007

The kitchen at La Charreada restaurant in Greencastle was cleared to reopen after health officials confirmed a deer was being gutted there earlier in the week.

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This is the second time the Board of Health has closed the Greencastle Mexican restaurant in three years.

Putnam County health inspectors cited the restaurant at 1360 Indianapolis Rd. for bringing a deer into the kitchen and butchering it, using food obtained from an unapproved source, not protecting the food in the kitchen from contamination, allowing the employees to handle the deer and allowing business to continue in the presence of a “gross unsanitary occurrence and condition,” according to the inspection report.

Socrates Montano, a district manager and member of the family that owns La Charreada and 32 other Mexican restaurants in Indiana and Arkansas, said the employees who were responsible for bringing the deer into the restaurant have been fired and that the kitchen has been thoroughly cleaned since the carcass was removed. He denied that the employees butchered the deer in the restaurant.

Inspectors said they showed up at La Charreada Wednesday afternoon after they received a complaint about the carcass, said Environmental Health Specialist Darrell Brackney. Montano said the complaint came from an electrician who happened to be in the kitchen at the time.

When they arrived, they found “a few” people, presumably employees, standing around a gutted, headless, skinned deer carcass that was lying on the floor, Brackney said.

Montano said Department of Natural Resources officers who were friends with one of the employees brought the deer, which had been hit and killed by a car, to the restaurant at the request of the employee. That employee and another then carried the deer into the kitchen.

At no point did employees intend to serve venison from the carcass to customers, Brackney said. The employee was, however, butchering the animal on the floor and large pieces of meat had been cut from the carcass, said Brackney and Board of Health Administrator Beth Glaze, both of whom took part in the inspection.

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In response to the violation, owners fired the two employees who brought the deer into the kitchen and are reviewing security camera tape from the kitchen to determine whether the manager should be fired as well, Montano said.

Both men were waiters and were not responsible for preparing food, he added.

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