Just the check, please.
Ah, the joys of going out to eat.
For those who enjoy trying out fun dishes and cuisines surrounded by other people in new and exciting environments—or for those who simply can’t cook—eating out is the way to go. But never forget the most important rule of all: It doesn’t matter how good the food is, who the chef is, how reasonable the prices are, or even how favorable the reviews are. The only thing that matters is whether the restaurant can pass a health inspection.
Living in New York City, you’d better believe I won’t even go near a place that has a “B” grade in the window. Any lower than that and my brain is already capable of totally blacking the sight out of my optic nerve (a la Black Mirror). When it comes to eating, it’s “A” all the way. Nobody has time to enjoy their meal only to see a cockroach scuttle under the table. Nobody.
That being said, not every restaurant and dining establishment can pass the test. Health inspectors and other restaurant and hospitality professionals of Reddit were asked to share their most disturbing tales, and these might seriously encourage you to cook at home for a while.
I was in the training program to be a state health inspector after I graduated from college. The majority of the inspections weren’t memorable and small stuff got written up, like temps being too low or high, not having gloves accessible, storing meat boxes on the ground, etc.
The two inspections that I remember being horrible were both at low end Chinese places in strip malls. In one inspection, the wok chef had an overflowing ashtray right next to the meat bins. Rodent droppings, piles of dead flies behind the range, open doors to the outside, just nasty. We also had to check soda machines and the hoses and guns. The soda gun line at one place was so caked with mold and funk it was a miracle that soda could even get through, we couldn’t figure out how any previous inspector had missed that or wtf happened. The soda gun was the worst because it ruined eating out and having a mixed drink, I’ll never be able to drink anything out of a soda gun ever again.
I got a better job offer after two months of that and ran out of that job. (UberToonces)
Just like mom used to make
Health inspector here.
Just shut down a place due to a severe cockroach infestation.
Shut down a restaurant awhile back as there was a severe rodent infestation. I’m talking poop everywhere, in the utensil bins, on the food prep surfaces, just everywhere. Owners were brushing it aside as they worked. Live mice stuck to glue traps under sinks, etc.
Another rodent infestation, owner just left cardboard boxes of open poison throughout the restaurant.
Although we can order a place closed, it doesn’t happen that often. We try to educate first and work with operators. Having said that, sometimes a ticket or closure order is the only thing that will work.
Most places I inspect are pretty decent. A lot of what we see is lack of safe food handling procedures and hand washing (i.e. preparing raw chicken with gloves on – placing gloved hands right into the flour, tossing the chicken, touching sink taps, cooler doors, etc. with no hand washing). Also, cultural backgrounds and the way food was prepared “Back Home” does not meet standards in Canada.
FYI: We also inspect personal services (nail salons, tattoo shops, etc.), drinking water system, private septic systems and pools. (gettjazzy)
Out of the dumpster and into the frying pan
Former health inspector here (and current third party food safety auditor): A few things that come to mind:
1. Grocery store so infested with rodents that an entire group of them was living in the dairy cooler- you know there had to be a lot of them in the store if some were resorting to living in a cold room.
2. Chinese restaurant getting ready to open for lunch. I walked in and temped the items in the walk-in cooler- all were well above acceptable temperatures- cooler had broken down in the night and was no longer functioning. They wanted to serve the food anyway. I had to embargo the entire cooler worth of food and stood there as they filled trash bag after trash bag with meat and took it to the dumpster. As I was leaving the location, I drove around to the back and they had employees pulling it all out of the trash and dragging it back into the building. Had to stop them, make them return it to the dumpster and pour straight bleach all over the food to ensure it could not be used.
3. Restaurant so infested with cockroaches that when the manager greeted me at the host stand to take me to the kitchen, he had a roach crawl across his back right in front of me.
4. Observed people smoking in the kitchens and in meat departments of grocery stores. Also observed folks using chewing tobacco and keeping their spit cups on the food prep surfaces.
Most of the stuff we think is disgusting isn’t necessarily what the general public would even notice. A lot revolves around handwashing- if you really watch someone during food production and see all the things they touch and then attempt to handle ready to eat foods, it’s disgusting. People just don’t even think about handwashing like they should. (redneck_lezbo)