Chun Burton shops at the Costco store on Causeway Blvd. in Brandon once a week. She especially enjoys sampling the food.
"A lot of stuff they make real good. I don't have to cook. When I taste it and I like it, I buy it!" she added.
And she's got company.
"We come about every other day because we're close," said Rafael Tapia, who conveniently lives right around the corner.
"So you do your grocery shopping here?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.
"Oh yeah, we buy milk for the baby here," Tapia added.
Both customers felt the store was clean but didn't know just how clean.
In a special Dirty Dining I-Team investigation, we looked through food safety inspection reports from the Department of Agriculture for all major bay area warehouses including the Costco's in Brandon and Clearwater, two BJ Warehouses in Tampa and 13 Sam's Clubs.
"I wouldn't say I'm obsessive/compulsive. I just think that everything has its place," said General Manager Delroy Whittick, who has been with the Costco company for almost 24 years. He claims he's a bit of a clean freak.
"All of my employees know that if they see something on the floor and they walk by and don't pick it up, I am going to read them the riot act," Whittick admitted.
Constantly walking the floors of the 148,000 square foot warehouse in Brandon, Whittick is always checking on everything.
"All these coolers are hooked up to my alarm system, so if the rack should go down, it will call," Whittick explained.
And his Costco's inspections are proof that his hard work has paid off. The Brandon location has had all good scores in the last two years including on April 27, 2012, September 13, 2012, November 29, 2011, and March 24, 2011. But there was one misstep on October 31, 2011 after inspectors observed birds in the rice and pasta section.
"We tried to get them out, obviously it wasn't in a timely manner. That's the one little blemish on our record so to speak," Whittick said.
Whittick says Costco's continued success comes from the company's own rules that exceed what inspectors expect.
"We go above and beyond what the state requires us to do in every aspect of what we do in the fresh food business," Whittick said.
Just up the street, Costco's competitor Sam's Club on West Brandon Blvd. had the most critical issues of any of their 13 bay area stores.
The state gave the Sam's Brandon location two poor scores in 2012.
According to the inspection report on May 2, 2012 the sewage system failed with raw sewage dripping from the drains onto the floors and issued a temporary "stop use order" for the ovens.
And on January 4, 2012 inspectors found no hot water running so they implemented a temporary "stop use order" on the area, where 'ready to eat' meals are prepared.
Dianna Gee, the spokesperson for Sam's Club, which is owned by Walmart, sent us this statement, "Every single one of our customers deserves access to healthy and affordable food and our goal is to ensure we are doing everything we possibly can to earn their trust as merchant."
BJ Wholesale customers have a choice of two clubs in Tampa. But the state had concerns with conditions inside the Commerce Palms location, failing BJ's twice in 2012.
On April 6, 2012 inspectors found no hot water running along with waste water leaking from the oven, issuing a temporary "stop use order." And when they returned a couple weeks later for a follow up inspection, waste water was still leaking onto the floors and the oven was still being used so a "stop sale order" was implemented on all adulterated chicken found.
BJ's representative Kelly McFalls responded in a statement in part, "When we receive an inspection that points out areas in which we can improve, we review the findings with the club and work with them on corrective actions."
And Costco's General Manager believes all actions must start at the top.
"Once you develop a culture and you make it the culture of the building, everybody buys into it," Whittick said.
"The cleanliness of clubs is incredibly important to BJ's Wholesale Club. Our Members trust and expect us to always provide a clean and safe shopping environment. We take these inspections to heart. When we receive an inspection that points out areas in which we can improve, we review the findings with the Club and work with them on corrective actions. As a company, we have a best-in-class quality assurance team that works proactively with local, state and federal inspectors to ensure that we maintain and adhere to all regulatory requirements."
----Kelly McFalls, BJ's Spokesperson
SAMS CLUB STATEMENT:
"Every single one of our customers deserves access to healthy and affordable food and our goal is to ensure we are doing everything we possibly can to earn their trust as merchant."
-----Dianna Gee, Walmart Spokesperson
HOW DID YOUR WAREHOUSE
2021 Brandon Blvd. W.
Brandon, FL 33511
13360 Cortez Blvd.
Brooksville, FL 34613
2575 Gulf-To-Bay Blvd.
Clearwater, FL 33765
3530 Lakeland Highlands Rd
Lakeland, FL 33803
4600 Us Hwy N. 98
Lakeland, FL 33809
4330 U.S.. 19
New Port Richey, FL 34652
7001 Park Blvd.
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
10385 Big Bend Road
Riverview, FL 33578
300 N. Cattlemen Rd.
Sarasota, FL 34232
1725 34th St N
St Petersburg, FL 33713
15835 N. Dale Mabry
Tampa, FL 33618
5135 S. Dale Mabry
Tampa, FL 33611
27727 State Rd. 56
Wesley Chapel, FL 33543
10921 Causeway Blvd
Brandon, FL 33511
2655 Gulf To Bay Blvd
Clearwater, FL 33759
6290 Commerce Palms Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33647
1/10/13 - GOOD
7651 W. Waters Ave.
Tampa, FL 33615