Gross? Just how hygienic is Mumbai’s street food?

No matter the time of night or day, somewhere on the streets of Mumbai there is a plate of deep-fried, mashed-potato patties called vada-pav being served with green chutney; or a bowl of pav-bhaji, a spicy mixture of mashed tomatoes and vegetables garnished with a blob of butter, onion and a dash of lemon.

MumbaiAccording to the Public Health Association, only 53% of Indians wash their hands with soap after defecating; 38% do so before eating and only 30% before preparing food. Bacteria transmitted in food, like coliform, E coli, salmonella, shigella, staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas, are major causes of infections such as diarrhea, typhoid, food poisoning, urinary tract infections and pneumonia. These bacteria are found in the feces of human and animals. They grow quickly if the food is kept in moist, warm conditions, and can enter human bodies if the vegetables or meat are not washed properly or there is faecal contamination during food production or handling. Bacteria can also reach your food through flies, exchange of cash with infected hands or through contaminated water.

Spend restaurant money at places proud of their inspection results: Indiana investigation highlights problems

State law requires counties inspect Indiana’s nearly 12,000 restaurants twice a year. But even when inspectors find mouse droppings, flies and raw meat stored at the wrong temperature, customers might have a hard time finding out about it, an I-Team 8 investigation found.

jake.gyllenhaal.rest.inspection.disclosureI-Team 8 took a hidden camera into Central Indiana restaurants asking for copies of inspection reports. In four counties, the majority of restaurants wouldn’t provide a report when I-Team 8 asked to see it. Six of eight restaurants refused. One restaurant said, “I don’t have them.”

Even when inspectors have found critical violations, state law mandates counties wait 10 days before making any of those results public.

I-Team 8 took the issue to Indiana State Sen. Vaneta Becker, who was part of the committee that wrote the 10-day rule 20 years ago as a then state representative. She said no one had ever challenged the 10-day rule since, despite most other states not having such a policy.

Some states post letter grades A-F right in the front window. Indiana doesn’t. I-Team 8 checked the policies of all 50 states and Washington, D.C.  Six states require restaurants turn over inspection reports to customers. Many more leave it up to the counties. In South Carolina, grades are posted as a decal in the restaurant immediately after the inspection. Some states like Mississippi you can check restaurant inspections as you walk in on a smartphone app.

Although Indiana doesn’t post grades, I-Team 8 found two restaurants in the metro area that readily handed over their inspections.

“Why make you go through all that work to dig that stuff up when we have it right here?”

The manager at Culver’s in Noblesville immediately said, “I can give you our most recent one, sir,” when I-Team 8 asked for an inspection report.

At Pizza King in Cumberland an employee said, “Yes! They’re supposed to be right here.”

It’s company policy at both Culvers and Pizza King.

“That’s why we have to keep them here,” the Pizza King employee said. “It has to be open to the public, so people can look at it.”

Culvers keeps a copy handy. In fact, the manager said his restaurant helped with Hamilton County Health Department’s online system.

“They post all the health inspections too because we helped them set up the program,” the manager said.

Culver’s owner Jeff Meyer said keeping the inspections on-site is about customer convenience.

“You can log on online and see for yourself, so why make you go through all that work to dig that stuff up when we have it right here?”

Again in UK: Woodys takeaway cautioned for seven food safety offences

A takeaway business in Farnborough has been formally cautioned by Rushmoor Borough Council for poor food hygiene and safety standards.

woodys.take.out.nov.14Woodys Take Out, in Farnborough Road, was issued with two cautions by the council on November 14 for a total of seven food safety offences, and an additional health and safety offence.

The offences, noted during visits on October 23 and November 3, included a lack of effective cleaning and disinfection of the premises and equipment such as chopping boards, handles and taps.

Food handlers were also found to not have been suitably trained in food hygiene procedures and demonstrated a poor understanding of effective cleaning.

There was also a failure to implement required food safety management systems.

The director of the company – which has branches in Farnborough, Aldershot,Blackwater and Yiewsley – accepted the cautions, admitting the offences on behalf of the company.

The formal action follows an unannounced, routine food hygiene inspection by officers.

Must be UK: 7 Cambridgeshire restaurants and takeaways score lowest ‘zero’ rating

Seven establishments in Cambridgeshire have received a zero rating for their standards of food hygiene – the worst possible score.

8210819-largeThe Food Standards Agency zero rating indicates that urgent improvement is necessary and it is used to indicate how closely businesses comply with food hygiene law.

Inspectors of zero-rated Spring Restaurant, in Mill Road, Cambridge, found “there were no handwashing soap or towels near the wash basin” and that “a large number of mouse bait boxes under the work surface” indicated a previous mouse problem.

Training fail: Cheating the health card system in Vegas

When you go out to eat, what stands between you and food poisoning?

large_spaceyTonight, in a special Dirty Dining report, Contact 13 uncovers a loophole in the food safety system.

As Chief Investigator Darcy Spears learned, some of the people preparing your food may not be prepared to keep you safe.

“It was a wake-up call, especially for the employees,” said Mark Green when his restaurant, Kahunaville at TI, was on Dirty Dining in October.

“He was hired very new and so… he didn’t know,” said Vanessa Nguyen of Pho Bosa in another October Dirty Dining report.

And in September, Min Yoon of Kaizen Fusion Roll and Sushi said, “It’s incompetence.  I understand that.”

Week after week, that’s what we hear from restaurant owners and managers whose eateries are downgraded or closed for failing to protect public health.

But whether they’re featured on Dirty Dining or not, our investigation found local restaurants may be vulnerable to a loophole in the system.

Darcy Spears: Is this a system that’s ripe for fraud?
County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani/Board of Health: It is a system that probably could be used fraudulently.

Contact 13 discovered it has.

The Health District certifies first-time restaurant workers in the form of a food handler safety training card.

“So that when they get to the workplace, they are ready and set to work,” explained SNHD Environmental Health Director Jackie Reszetar.

But at Wo Hing during the restaurant’s first inspection this month, they were nearly shut down due to unsafe food handling.

Darcy Spears: Did they have training from the Health District?  They have their food card, right?


Sam Lee/Wo Hing: Yeah, yeah.

Jonh Dang of Vietnamese bistro Nem Nuong says the training is flawed.

Jonh Dang: I fired a lot of people.


rainman.counting.cardsDarcy Spears: You had to fire like 20 people for defrauding the food card program?


Jonh: Yeah, they supposed to know what they doing.  You know?

The problem with the system is that there are no checks and balances. 

There’s nothing to prevent one person from stepping in and answering the test questions for another.

To get the card, you just need a test completion certificate, identification and $40.

Darcy Spears: What does that suggest to you?


Jackie Reszetar: That suggests that we have to have a better check system.

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani sits on the Board of Health, which oversees the Health District.

Darcy Spears: What safeguards are there in place right now to make sure that the person who goes on the computer is the person who goes to pick up the card and takes the picture?


Chris Giunchigliani: To my knowledge, I don’t know that they have that safeguard because they can do it from home, they can do it from a library.

The Health District issues more than 100-thousand food handler cards each year.

So how many instances of cheating have they documented?

“We don’t want the numbers out there,” Chua said.  “We don’t want anything out there because one person, one instance is too much.”

Proper cleaning and sanitizing matters; so does correcting infractions

Restaurants I want to eat at have some common attributes: tasty food, decent value and a good food safety culture. Food safety culture isn’t about having a training program – it’s about identifying hazards, understanding how to manage them and when deficiencies are pointed out, reacting by addressing problems.

I avoid places that have trouble responding to the help that local public health regulatory folks provide. Everyone can have a bad day, but having two or three consecutive inspections and not correcting the issues is a trend that says more about what an operator values.JS51071999

According to GetHampshire.com, Woodys Take Out received a formal caution by local regulators after not heeding inspectors’ warnings to address their food safety activities.

The offences, noted during visits on October 23 and November 3, included a lack of effective cleaning and disinfection of the premises and equipment such as chopping boards, handles and taps.

Food handlers were also found to not have been suitably trained in food hygiene procedures and demonstrated a poor understanding of effective cleaning.

There was also a failure to implement required food safety management systems.

The director of the company – which has branches in Farnborough, Aldershot, Blackwater and Yiewsley – accepted the cautions, admitting the offences on behalf of the company.

As part of this action, the takeaway voluntarily closed for one day to ensure that the premises were brought up to the minimum standard required by law.

Good cleaning and sanitizing takes having the right equipment, staff that know how to do it and an organizational value system that ensures it gets carried out. Dirty utensils and cutting boards in the prep area can lead to cross-contamination risks.

‘Accepting and turning blind-eye to violations must end’ Changing food safety culture in Lebanon

Ministers stressed on Saturday their support to the food safety campaign waged by Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, considering it a necessity to end the chaos in Lebanon.

hassan-bahsoun-(3)“Establishing a food safety association would end such a crisis on the long term,” Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayeb said during a meeting between several ministers and the Economic Committees at the Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture in Beirut’s Hamra area.

“Minister Abou Faour created a positive shock through his campaign,” Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq told reporters.

He stressed that all violators should be held accountable.

“The stance adopted by Abou Faour isn’t personal,” Mashnouq said, pointing out that the culture of accepting and turning a blind-eye to violations must end.

For his party, Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon, who previously rejected the health minister’s tactics in announcing the names of institutions violating food safety measures via new conferences, said that “Abou Faour’s measures shed the light on a huge problem.”

Economy Minister Alain Hakim said that the “state has long neglected the food safety case,” warning that the scandal will have an impact on the country’s economy.

Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan called on ministers not to point fingers regarding the food scandal but to assume responsibilities in order to reach integration.

Abou Faour vowed to continue the campaign, stressing that “protecting citizens doesn’t oppose the country’s economy.”

Authorities Friday shut down more slaughterhouses, restaurants, supermarkets and other retailers selling contaminated food as part of a crackdown launched last week on food establishments violating safety and sanitation standards.

Tripoli’s slaughterhouse was closed Friday by the Internal Security Forces in line with a decision taken by north Lebanon Governor Ramzi Nohra.

The decision came after he received a Health Ministry report listing changes that needed to be made for the slaughterhouse to conform to health standards.

The report said livestock must be hanged during slaughter and not laid on the ground and that the abattoir should also be equipped with refrigerators and storage units to separate meat.

How would a cafe crawling with adorable kittens pass a D.C. health inspection?

Washington, D.C. learned this week that it could be getting a cat cafe by next year, and Twitter got more excited than a kitten chasing a laser pointer’s red dot. The concept combines a coffee shop and a feline petting zoo; they’re big in Asia, and cat cafes have opened stateside in the Bay Area and New York. But with cats come fur, hairballs and litter boxes. So how does all of this work in an establishment that also offers food service?

catsUnder the current D.C. health code, only service animals are permitted in food establishments. But Crumbs and Whiskers founder Kanchan Singh has been in talks with the D.C. Department of Health as she looks for a space for her business, and thinks she’s worked out a reasonable arrangement.

“Basically, after a couple of months of convincing, what the DOH and I agreed on is that the cat area must be completely sectioned off from the cafe area,” Singh said.

That means that the cat cafe could actually be two separate but adjacent storefronts: One with a kitchen dishing out cake, ice cream and tea, and the other, a jungle gym for cats. Another option is to have a common entrance that leads to both businesses, but with completely segregated entrances to both.

Cross-contamination?

Gray steaks disposed in Georgia restaurant inspection

Some of the steaks at Nicky’s Diner in east Cobb County were gray and in such poor condition that a health inspector had them discarded during a recent routine inspection.

nicky's.dinerThe inspector also recommended more staff training in food safety for the diner at 4751 Sandy Plains Road, Roswell. Among other code violations, there were open bags of brown gravy, grits, sugar and rice, all subject to contamination.

Nicky’s Diner failed the inspection with a 52/U. The restaurant had previous health scores of 92/A and 80/B.

According to the inspection report, employees were using the wrong thermometers to check the temperature of items on the food line. Probes that measure thin foods were needed, but the restaurant did not have this type of thermometer, the inspector said.

Some hot food items were not being held at safe temperatures.

Imagine if this applied to food reviews: UK hotel guests outraged by fine for leaving bad review

A British budget hotel that fined a couple 100 pounds (AUD$180) for writing a bad review about it online has agreed to pay them back and drop its policy of penalising guests who do that, officials said.

bad.reviewTony and Jan Jenkinson told the BBC they discovered the charge on their credit card shortly after they called the hotel as a “filthy, dirty, rotten, stinking hovel” on the travel website TripAdvisor.

The Jenkinsons said that when they questioned the charge from the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool, a seaside town in north-western England, it pointed out the “no-bad-review policy” in its terms and conditions.

Blackpool Council, which investigated the case, said the hotel has now complied with its request to remove the policy.