For Prospect Heights residents, the good news is that most area supermarkets and bodegas are clean by state health standards.
But some are not.
Of the 24 food stores in the neighborhood, six failed a state inspection in 2012, and of those, three have since shut down, according to data from the Department of Agriculture and Markets.
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Highest in violations is Diones Grocery, located at 176 Underhill Avenue, which shut down permanently on Jan. 4, 2013 after failing two inspections the previous year.
In its Oct. 1 inspection, the state found two "critical deficiencies," meaning they presented an immediate health hazard and nine less-serious general deficiencies."
The worst deficiencies were 24 bags of moth-infested rice, and live moths on the shelves, flies in the retail area and three dead cockroaches in the deli food preparation area.
Nimu Grocery, at 664 Washington Avenue, had the second highest number of deficiencies. In its Dec. 3, 2012 inspection it had two which had two critical deficiencies—no hand washing sink in the retail area, and a "buildup of old fish residue on food contact surfaces."
They also had two general deficiencies for the lack of a bathroom in the store (workers, who are all family members, use the bathroom in the owner's apartment, upstairs) and the presence of a cat in the retail area.
The store's manager, Mohammad Meah, said they now keep the cat out of the store and have fixed the other critical deficiencies. Nimu passed its most recent inspection, in Feb. 21, 2013, with only two general deficiencies.
The owner, Meah's father who is also named Mohammad, opened the store two-and-a-half years ago after a career in construction and is still learning the intricacies of the business, the younger Meah said.
"We've really learned a lot," he said.
The elder Meah agreed. "Whatever the inspector says, she's right," he said.
Also failing one or more inspections in 2012 were the now closed Brooklyn Beer and Soda, 648 Washington Ave., the now closed Melo Mini Market at 598 Vanderbilt Ave., Key Food, 801 Washington Ave. Stop II Organic Grocery Store, 585 Vanderbilt Ave. and Prospect Heights Beer, 648 Washington Ave.
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On a positive note, both Washington Avenue's NSA Foodmarket and Vanderbilt Avenue's Met Foods did well in 2012, with no critical deficiencies cited. The two major grocery stores on Flatbush Avenue, Jo, Brian and Josephs Market (formerly known as Key Food) and DNY Natural Land, both passed their most recent 2012 inspection.
Met Foods' owner, Abdul Jawad, said the key to passing the surprise inspections is constant vigilance.
"You've got to stay on top of things," he said. "You can't wait until the last minute to start cleaning up."
He added that the inspectors are tough but fair.
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"They look hard. They're going to open the machines. They're looking on the shelves," he said.
"They stay hours," he added. "They're not going to overlook anything."