NORTH MIAMI, Fla. - Local 10 News has learned a South Florida catering company is not licensed to run a commissary to make school lunches for children out of Temple Beth Moshe in North Miami.
Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier exposed the issue last Wednesday after receiving several pictures of unsanitary conditions in the temple's kitchen from a former employee.
Among the pictures were a dead rodent in a trap, outdated kosher turkey breast, rodent droppings and what appear to be rodent gnaw marks on a bag of rice.
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Exquisite Catering by Robert was renting the temple's kitchen, making lunches and delivering them to three Ben Gamla charter schools.
Ben Gamla has since fired the catering company after learning from Local 10 News that the facility wasn't licensed.
"On Nov. 20, DCF was made aware of allegations related to a kitchen at Temple Beth Moshe preschool, a licensed child care facility, and sent inspectors out the next day during lunchtime," said Dr. David Frady, press secretary for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The temple is located at 2225 NE 121st St. in North Miami.
Licensed child care facilities are required to notify DCF if they prepare food for children onsite.
Temple Beth Moshe preschool's director informed DCF that food is prepared and delivered by Exquisite Catering cooks.
While the caterer is licensed through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the business is not licensed to operate at the temple.
"DCF is taking enforcement action by issuing two class 2 violations to the facility for providing food from an unlicensed food vendor," Frady said. "For both violations, DCF child care regulation staff provided technical assistance to the facility to ensure they come into compliance."
When showed pictures of conditions in the temple's kitchen by Weinsier, Robert Egert, owner of Exquisite Catering by Robert, refused to acknowledge the facility was his.
"The licensing issue for Temple Beth Moshe was an administrative error, which is in the process of being corrected," Egert later said in a statement. "As the state report indicates, we have submitted a new application for the temple location and we expect that to be approved as early as (Wednesday)."
Robert Katz, the kosher director for the catering company, claimed the dead rodent was planted by a disgruntled ex-employee, but he refused to provide any other information.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation does license and inspect the catering company's main facility on Northeast 150th Street, and found a roach and rodent issue there as well during a recent inspection.
DCF is tasked with ensuring the health and safety of children in licensed child care settings through on-site monitoring at least three times a year through unannounced visits.
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