Donald Trump promised last week to hobble the “FDA Food Police” in an unusually specific policy proposal, but the restaurants he owns have gained a reputation over the years for “extremely poor food handling.”
One of his customers, Thomas Purgatorio, died from organ failure in January 1990, about four months after eating “salmonella-tainted mousse” at Buffet by the Sea in Trump’s Castle Hotel and Casino, reported The Daily Beast.
His widow, who was also sickened by the bacteria-contaminated dessert, settled an $11 million lawsuit against Trump’s Castle for “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Purgatorio’s daughter told the website, after Trump’s attorneys blamed the customer’s death on a pre-existing heart condition.
Trump’s attorney, Alan Kaplan, blamed the salmonella on bad eggs the restaurant bought from a vendor — but that’s exactly the sort of transaction the FDA polices.
President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress overhauled the FDA’s food-safety system in 2010, after Bush-era policies were blamed for tomatoes tainted with salmonella and spinach with E. coli.
Republicans have pushed back against those changes since they were enacted in 2010, and they appear to have found a champion in Trump — who specifically complained about FDA rules inspections of food facilities, the temperatures for safely storing food and “farm and food production hygiene.”
Trump-owned restaurants have been cited over the years for serving month-old caviar, expired veal stock and yogurt, and eggs, cream and sausages that had been stored at unsafe temperatures.
“The DJT restaurant in the Trump hotel (in Las Vegas) is described on its website as ‘elegant’ and ‘in a class by itself,’” reported KTNV-TV in a 2013 “dirty dining” exposé. “It is indeed in a class by itself this week, receiving the highest number of demerits of all restaurants health inspectors visited.”
Remember when Trump tweeted a photo of himself eating a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo to prove that he loved Hispanics?
The restaurant that served that food, Trump Cafe and Grill in Trump Tower, was cited a week later for live roaches in the food area, although it apparently resolved its vermin issues the following month to earn an “A” rating.
Newspaper reports from 1992 show Trump’s properties had “the worst track record for food-related health problems among Atlantic City’s 12 casinos,” with five salmonella outbreaks dating back to 1984.
“We find it highly unusual that most of our problems in Atlantic City have been associated with the Trump properties,” a health department official for the city said at the time. “The physical part of the [establishments] is top-of-the-line but it all boils down to extremely poor food handling.”
The Trump campaign later removed references to the FDA in the food safety fact sheet without any explanation.