Chili’s restaurant cook fired for shirtless kitchen selfies in Florida

One of my favorite food writers, Tina Nguyen, reports for Mediate, that a Chili’s line cook in Florida was fired this week after photos emerged of him taking shirtless photos in a restaurant, and no, we didn’t make this story up by pulling “Dumb American Stereotypes” out of a hat.

hey.now.hankThe photos went viral after Justin Speekz (actually his real name) decided to put them on Facebook, in which he poses next to a grill and lying down on a food prep surface, in an album called “Sexy Cooks of Chili’s”.

“Chili’s clearly does not encourage this type of behavior in our restaurants. We maintain very high standards of food quality, safety and cleanliness and took immediate steps to ensure the restaurant continues to follow these requirements,” Chili’s said in a statement to ABC Action News.

 

Tweeting for foodborne illness

In less than a year, a Chicago Department of Public Health website launched to track Twitter traffic for foodborne illness complaints turned up 21 restaurants that failed unannounced health inspections (Harris JK et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014;63[32]:681-685).

twerkingDubbed Foodborne Chicago, the website uses an algorithm that parses Chicago-area tweets that include the words “food poisoning.” Project staff members then review the tweets for references to stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, or other terms than may indicate food-borne illness. Staff members respond and ask the Twitter users to report on Foodborne Chicago their illness and where they ate. The web forms go directly to the Chicago 311 system that handles nonemergency city services. From March 2013 to January 2014, Foodborne Chicago identified 2241 “food poisoning” tweets, of which 270 described specific food-borne illness complaints. Eight of those 270 tweets mentioned a visit to a physician or a hospital emergency department. Overall, 193 food poisoning complaints were submitted through Foodborne Chicago. About 10% sought medical care.

The complaints triggered unannounced health inspections at 133 restaurants; 21 failed their inspections and were closed. Another 33 restaurants passed with conditions, indicating that serious or critical violations were identified and corrected.

In related news, Carol Beach of The Packer says Foodborne Chicago researcher, Jenine Harris of Washington University in St. Louis, reported health officials in Boston and New York City are considering similar Twitter taps.

In September, researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute published results in the journal “Prevention Medicine” that showed a strong correlation between negative customer reviews on the website Yelp and foodborne illness outbreaks tracked by the CDC.

The study included more than 5,800 reviews of restaurants posted from 2005 through 2012.

Results showed that social media reviews could complement traditional outbreak surveillance methods by providing rapid information on suspected foodborne illnesses, the implicated foods and the restaurants involved, according to the research report.

The Virginia researchers looked at five categories of food and the rates at which Yelp reviewers reported an illness compared to the rates of CDC’s reported illness information and found very similar results:

  • Vegetables implicated in 22% of illnesses reported on Yelp, 25% from CDC;
  • Fruits and nuts implicated in 7% on Yelp, 7% from CDC;
  • Meat and poultry implicated in 32% on Yelp, 33% from CDC;
  • Dairy and eggs implicated in 23% on Yelp, 23% from CDC; and
  • Seafood implicated in 16% percent on Yelp, 12% from CDC.

Elaine Nsoesie, co-author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University, wrote that consumer reviews or tweets about illnesses could be an an additional tool to help public health authorities detect outbreaks earlier.

Blood-covered cardboard and rat droppings found at UK supermarket sentenced for food hygiene offences

Rat droppings on pallets of bottled water and cardboard covered in blood were just some of the shocking finds made at a supermarket in Slough.

The director and manager of Marwa Superstore in High Street have been fined and banned from managing food businesses after pleading guilty to a string of food safety offences.

marwaAppearing at Slough Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 25 the owner of the store, Noor Al-Huda Ltd, company director, Raghad Kadham, and day-to-day manager, Mahdi Bourhan, were all fined and ordered to pay costs.

The offences included failure to keep food in a manner which protected it from contamination, failing to keep the premises clean, and failing to have procedures in place to keep the premises free from pests.

All three were also prohibited from being involved in the management of any food business with immediate effect.

Slough Borough Council food safety manager Ann Stewart said: “Marwa clearly haven’t learned their lessons because, despite repeated warnings and food safety rating of zero, a lot of the problems we found were similar to the ones that led to its closure two years ago.

UK store fined £2,000 after rotting mouse found among

A decomposing mouse was found sandwiched between packets of beans at a convenience store.

The owner of the Gurkha SP4 Mini Market in Brompton High Street, Gillingham, has been fined after the discovery.

Gurkha SP4 Mini Market in BromptonRodents had torn their way into packets of food, contaminating them and leaving their droppings all over the shop shelves.

Environmental Health Officers made an unannounced visit to the shop on August 23 last year and immediately shut the premises down.

They discovered a widespread infestation, poor cleanliness and a mouse corpse in between packets of mung beans.

Last week shop owner Mrs Prerna Rai appeared at Medway Magistrates’ Court.

She pleaded guilty to five charges in relation to a lack of cleaning and repair, inadequate procedures to control a mouse infestation, food which had been contaminated by mice, no running hot water at the hand wash sink and failure to put in place procedures to manage food safety.

Rai was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £500 costs as well as a £40 victim surcharge.

‘More info better for consumers’ NC County restaurant inspection ratings to appear on Yelp pages

Restaurant inspections have long revealed the dirtier side of food locales, including the restaurants frequented by residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

In an effort to make inspection ratings more accessible, Orange County announced Sept. 16 that it would begin posting its health inspection ratings to Yelp. A restaurant’s most recent letter grade now appears in the right-hand column of its Yelp page.

seinfeld.soupnaziVictoria Hudson, an environmental health specialist for the Orange County Health Department, conducts inspections in Carrboro and parts of Chapel Hill and UNC. She said more access to information is beneficial to consumers.

“People should be able to use these scores to assign risk,” Hudson said. “The letter ‘A’ does not necessarily give you the full picture as much as the list of comments does.”

Clicking on the inspection score on Yelp reveals more information on previous inspections, including the dates and the number of health code violations found.

In May, for example, an inspection found pink and black mold in the ice machine at R&R Grill, though mold in ice machines was not an uncommon violation at restaurants in 2013 findings. The restaurant lost 1.5 points — a half deduction — and received a 98.5 total score.

Ross Moll, the owner of R&R Grill, said employees cleaned the machine after it was discovered. The machine is cleaned weekly and inspected to prevent the problem.

“I think they do a good job coming down on people who are not up to snuff on things, and they definitely work with people to get things fixed,” Moll said about the Health Department.

Tony Sustaita, owner of Bandido’s, said the inspections help reinforce safe practices.

“Obviously the policy is to be clean all the time, but people mess up once in a while,” he said. “Any issue that is brought up in an inspection is addressed immediately.”

Both Moll and Sustaitia said displaying scores in restaurants and on Yelp helps consumers make decisions.

“I think the only ones who would be concerned would be the ones with negative scores,” Sustaita said. “We’ve had pretty good 

Doing the right thing: Fancy Glasgow club apologizes for Salmonella outbreak

Eleven diners at the Glasgow club’s exclusive hospitality facilities during the Scottish Premiership clash between Celtic and Motherwell on Sunday, September 21 were stricken with Salmonella.

PiesA Celtic spokesman said: “We extend our sympathy to the small number of people affected.

“Clearly we were happy to assist in the investigation, which we understand will now focus on external suppliers.

“We welcome the statement from NHSGGC, which confirms that they are satisfied with the food handling and hygiene at Celtic Park.

“Celtic serves around 120,000 people each season in our corporate areas, an operation of substantial scale.

Many of the fans who enjoy fine dining on match days at Parkhead have private executive boxes costing up to £55,000 a season.

‘Poor hygiene is totally inexcusable especially when selling food’ UK ‘Cockroach takeaway’ closed

Four eateries closed in Ealing after being issued with emergency prohibition notices, closing them immediately, until officers were satisfied extensive pest control cleaning had taken place.

mib.cockroachA West Ealing takeaway was closed and ordered to pay costs of more than £600 by Ealing Magistrates’ Court after a cockroach was found in a customer’s meal.
Ealing has more food businesses than any other outer London borough and is one of the most proactive greater London councils in terms of prosecuting food outlets who endanger the public.

Pan Pizza and China Garden at 177, Uxbridge Road, West Ealing was among four eateries in the borough temporarily closed by Ealing Council food hygiene officers in September, due to infestations and poor cleaning. The takeaway was ordered to pay the council’s legal expenses of £611 on Thursday, 2 October.
The businesses were issued with emergency prohibition notices, closing them immediately, until officers were satisfied extensive pest control cleaning had taken place.

The council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for community services and safety, Councillor Ranjit Dheer said:  “Poor hygiene is totally inexcusable especially when you’re in the business of selling food to the general public. I really don’t know how the owners of these businesses thought they could get away with it.” 

Irish pub closed after All Ireland hurling final due to ‘grave and immediate danger to public health’

Quinn’s Pub in Drumcondra was closed by the Health Service Executive for two days after the first All Ireland hurling final.

HurlingThe pub’s closure was one of 12 that was ordered by the Food Safety Authority Ireland in September under rules that deem there to be “a grave and immediate danger to public health.”

The closure order was served on Quinn’s under food safety legislation on Monday 8 September, the day after the drawn All Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary. It was lifted two days later.

A prohibition order was served on Quinn’s on the same day telling the company operating the favourite GAA haunt to withdraw all foodstuffs that were stored in the basement cellar.

This included a stipulation to remove bottled drinks stored in the basement. All foodstuffs that were stored in this area at the time of the inspection remain prohibited from sale.

The pub is one the most popular meeting spots for GAA fans because of its proximity to Croke Park and is regularly extremely busy on match days.

according to the FSAI spokesperson.

‘Food businesses must recognize legal onus is on them to ensure safe food; 14 enforcement orders served on food businesses in Sept. in Oct.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today reported that twelve Closure Orders and two Prohibition Orders were served on food businesses during the month of September for breaches of food safety legislation, pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010. The Orders were issued by environmental health officers in the Health Service Executive.

Kebabish TandooriFive Closure Orders were served under the FSAI Act, 1998 on:

Kebabish Tandoori (restaurant), 39 Lower Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8 

Sami Halal Store (grocery), 63 Upper Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8 

Asian Foods (grocery), Blackrock Market, 19a Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Quinns (public house), 42-44 Drumcondra Road Lower, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Kilcoran Lodge Hotel (excludes sale and service of beverages at hotel bar), Kilcoran, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Seven Closure Orders were served under the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010 on:

KOI (restaurant), Unit 5, 32-36 Main Street, Malahide, Co. Dublin

Slane Bake (bakery), High Street, Slane, Meath

Phoenix House Chinese Takeaway, The Square, Tubbercurry, Sligo

SRM Book and Cook (bakery), Unit 8, Block 3, City North Business Campus, Stamullen, Meath

The Docks Hotel 001 (2)_lJuno’s Café, 26 Parkgate Street, Dublin 8

Docks Hotel (closed: all food operations including bar, nightclub and the service of all food and drinks), 15 Craywell Road, John Street, New Ross, Wexford

Palki Indian Restaurant, Bowgate Court, Bowgate Street, Ballinrobe, Mayo

Two Prohibition Orders were served under the FSAI Act, 1998 on: 

Sami Halal Store (grocery), 63 Upper Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8 

Quinns (public house), 42-44 Drumcondra Road, Lower Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Also during the month of September, two successful prosecutions were carried out by the Health Service Executive on:

Shangri-La Restaurant, High Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Station House Hotel, Lower Main Street, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Commenting on the high level of Closure Orders served on food businesses in September, Prof. Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, FSAI, states that food businesses need to be vigilant in relation to food safety at all times to ensure full compliance with food regulations.

“The environmental health officers who inspect these food businesses continue to find unacceptable levels of non-compliance with food safety legislation.  Time and time again, they encounter cases of food businesses that are potentially putting their customers’ health at risk by not complying with their legal obligations for food safety and hygiene. There is absolutely no excuse for negligent practices,” he says.  “Food businesses must recognise that the legal onus is on them to make sure that the food they serve is safe to eat.  This requires ongoing compliance with food safety and hygiene standards to ensure the food they are producing is safe to consume all day and every day. Food safety must be paramount.”

‘Never happened in 27 years’ Shigella strikes again: Four sickened at second California restaurant

Zov’s restaurant in Irvine was forced to shut down briefly Wednesday in the wake of a foodborne illness probe tied to four sick customers, health department officials said Thursday.

Zov’s on PortolaThe sickened guests ate at Zov’s on Portola on three different dates between Sept. 16-22, said Deanne Thompson, a spokeswoman for the county’s Health Care Agency. All four people tested positive for shigella, an intestinal disease that triggers severe diarrhea.

Health investigators cleared Zov’s to reopen the same day after the restaurant’s owners took quick action during a four-hour closure to sanitize the restaurant and discard all ready-to-eat foods including fresh produce.

Employees, who cannot return to work until they are medically cleared by the health agency, were also given training on proper hand-washing, Thompson said.

The restaurant reopened late Wednesday using staff from the other restaurants, said Armen Karamardian, vice president of operations at Zov’s – which has locations in other parts of Orange County.

“We are reviewing all policies and procedures to ensure that such an incident will not be repeated. In 27 years of operating restaurants, this is the first such case we’ve experienced,” Karamardian said.