KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In this week’s Food for Thought, several critical violations were recorded in the inspection report at El Ranchero Express on Cedar Lane in North Knoxville. The restaurant earned a failing score of 68.

El Ranchero Express, 104 Cedar Lane, Knoxville — Grade: 68, Follow-up Grade: 98

The inspector writes there was no person in charge present at the time of the inspection, but a manager is always supposed to be on duty.

Food temperatures were also a problem. Containers of tomatoes, onions, and green peppers were at 65 degrees, which is way too warm. 41 and below is the safe cool temperature to kill bacteria.

Food in the refrigerator was out of date by about four weeks. Ready-to-eat food is supposed to be discarded after seven days to prevent potential food-borne illness. Other ready-to-eat food in the cooler had no date marks on them, but they’re required.

A plastic bag of raw meat was found thawing next to a sink and the bacteria-filled juices were leaking on the surfaces. The meat should have been in a container thawing in the cooler.

Finally, dirty rags, used to clean food surfaces, were scattered around the kitchen. They belonged in a container filled with a sanitizer solution.

The inspector has returned to El Ranchero Express in North Knoxville and the original violations were corrected. The new grade is a 98.

A couple of weeks ago, Rio Grande Mexican restaurant in East Knox County off Strawberry Plains Pike failed its inspection. The inspector has returned there as well. The initial violations were corrected, and the new grade is 96.

Top scores of the week

  • Yassin’s Falafel House, 159 Peters Rd, Knoxville — 100
  • Balter Beerworks, 100 S. Broadway, Knoxville — 100
  • Golden Garden Chinese Restaurant, 5737 Western Ave, Knoxville — 100
  • Soul Good, 1518 University Ave, Knoxville — 100
  • Foothills Milling Co., 315 S. Washington St, Maryville — 100
  • Taste Of Thai, 8926 Town & Country Circle, Knoxville — 99
  • Heavenly Hog Bbq, 1107 Clinch Ave, Clinton — 99
  • Double C Grill, 1084 Highway 30, Athens — 99