From improper food storage to bugs, report lays out alleged violations at Firefly

Firefly Tapas Kitchen & Bar on Paradise Road sits closed Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

Firefly Tapas Kitchen & Bar, the popular Las Vegas restaurant that temporarily closed last week after diners reported getting sick, was cited for a range of health-code violations, including fruit flies and small moths at the restaurant on Paradise Road.

Inspectors from the Southern Nevada Health District said in a report that they observed numerous food-storage and cleanliness violations. They gave the restaurant a total of 44 demerits, three more than the minimum needed to close an eatery.

Alleged violations include:

• An employee handled ready-to-eat foods — garnish — with bare hands.

• An employee put on gloves without washing his or her hands.

• Condensation from a food-storage rack dripped into open containers of food.

• Raw ground beef was stored over cooked chicken and raw seafood.

• Raw fish was stored over cooked chicken.

• Uncovered dried breading mixture was stored close to the floor in a high foot-traffic area.

• A sanitizer bucket was stored on a food preparation surface next to open foods

• Chemical spray bottles were not labeled.

• Several employees used dry cloths instead of sanitizer towels to wipe a cutting board and plates.

• Food was dumped into a hand sink.

• Multiple fruit flies and small moths were observed in the facility.

The Health District shut down Firefly on Friday after 39 patrons reported food poisoning symptoms, with at least 10 of them saying they sought medical attention.

A number of patients tested positive for salmonella, district spokeswoman Stephanie Bethel said on Tuesday.

She could not confirm how many people had the bacteria but said there were “enough” to make health officials comfortable blaming the outbreak on it.

The source of the salmonella, which can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, was unclear Tuesday. Raw food, including chicken and cucumbers, can cause an outbreak.

In a statement Tuesday, Firefly owner John Simmons said he had not yet received official notification from the Health District about the purported salmonella outbreak. But, he said, he was pleased an investigation into the food-poisoning complaints was moving ahead.

“We continue to work closely with officials as we, too, are anxious to find the cause and make this right,” he said.