Improperly stored raw meat among violations found at Trump's Mar-a-Lago

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) - Undercooled meat, potentially dangerous raw fish and broken coolers were among 13 violations found by restaurant inspectors at Mar-a-Lago, the exclusive Florida resort owned by President Donald Trump, during visits in late January, state officials said on Thursday.

Mar-a-Lago representatives did not respond to requests for comment on the problems discovered at the private club, which charges $200,000 in initiation fees and has been dubbed the Southern White House. The officials said the infractions were fixed the same day.

This weekend, Trump is due to make his seventh trip as the 45th president of the United States to the Palm Beach property that he purchased in 1985.

The Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants said three of the violations were deemed “high priority,” meaning they could lead to illness-causing bacteria being served in meals. It said they were corrected immediately and the property’s three kitchens brought into compliance before its inspectors left.

The Mar-a-Lago visit was routine and not prompted by any complaint, said Stephen Lawson, spokesman for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the hotels and restaurants division.

The inspections took place on Jan. 26 and 27, just days before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The worst violations included the failure to use proper parasite destruction on fish intended to be served raw or undercooked.

The other high priority infractions were for two broken coolers that were being used for raw meats meant to be stored at 41 degrees that were potentially dangerously warm, including ham at 57 degrees, beef at 50 degrees and duck at 50 degrees, according to inspection reports.

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Other violations included sinks with water too cold to sanitize hands and rusty shelves inside walk-in coolers.

There was nothing unusual about the violations and state officials see no need to increase the routine cycle of surprise inspections beyond the usual twice a year, said Kathleen Keenan, a spokeswoman for the Florida regulator.

In a December 2015 inspection, a Mar-a-Lago kitchen was cited for four high-priority violations, which were also corrected the same day, records show.

It was not the first time a Trump eatery has gotten negative publicity since his November 2016 election. The restaurant in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City was reviewed by Vanity Fair in December under the headline “Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant in America.”

Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler