Florida resident says restaurant inspection reports should be openly displayed

Frances Green of Lake Worth writes that as a Florida resident who often travels to other states to visit family, I’m disappointed Florida doesn’t require restaurants to display their sanitation inspection scores.

rest.inspection.grade.colorMany other states require this practice, which allows customers to see how a restaurant rates and forces the restaurant to work hard to maintain standards, since their scores are prominently displayed for all to see.

The only law now on the books requires restaurants to produce their latest inspection report on request. Who is going to do that? Visitors from states required to display scores must wonder why Florida doesn’t provide this information for residents and visitors. Obviously, the restaurant lobbyists are hard at work preventing this practice.

220 now sick; Mexico suspends 8 restaurants in sushi chain poisoning

Eight restaurants, a distribution center and two suppliers of restaurant chain Sushi Roll were suspended by the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris) due to poisoning of 220 customers.

“After consuming food in these businesses had reported the poisoning of 220 people in two different events, so the Cofepris launched an investigation into the sonoran-hotdog-kimbap-vegetarian-platter-copy-300x248quality of products and health conditions in which the company operates,” said the department in a statement.

Among the reasons for the suspension were the lack of control on the temperature of the freezing chamber of food and malfunction of the same, in addition to lacking adequate manuals for preparing food and cross contamination in the sushi prep tables .

“The investigation continues as federal verifiers took 36 samples of food and products for microbiological analysis laboratory and the results will start coming next week,” added the agency. 

Raw sewage, no hot water closes UK kebab shop

The Midhurst kebab shop has been fined for nine offences under food hygiene law in what was described as one of the worst cases of neglect of standards Chichester District Council (CDC) had ever seen.

Istanbul October 2010Following a routine visit by the council’s environmental health officers, the shop was voluntarily closed by Mr Dogdu in January last year after raw sewage was found in the premises close to the food preparation area.

Amongst many other serious matters there was also no working hot water system for washing equipment or hands, mouldy walls and food preparation surfaces in a state of disrepair.

Pleading guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court, Mustafa Dogdu who co-runs Ali’s Grill in North Street, has now been fined a total of £650. His brother Mehmed was cautioned by the council for two further offences.

The shop was allowed to reopen two days after the visit when the drains had been unblocked, hot water provided and other works requiring immediate attention completed.

NYC restaurant inspection and disclosure program sucks: expert?

Restaurant inspection and disclosure programs like the A, B, C system favored by New York City, has a lot of problems: but I wouldn’t want to be the politician who says, this public health data is too complicated for you, so it’s secret.

The challenge is how to best improve disclosure systems.

Artyom Matusov, a city council analyst – not sure what that is — told The NY Post that most restaurants haven’t improved since the city instituted its letter-grade inspection system — a sham that has fattened City Hall coffers but hasn’t produced the public-health improvements touted by the city.

qr.code.rest.inspection.grade“We have a government agency that’s willing to blatantly lie to the public. If we can’t trust the Health Department to provide real scientific data . . . then we can’t trust any agency.”

Maybe somewhat over the top, but there’s so many caveats with inspection and disclosure systems that it’s easy pickings.

The city trumpeted data that showed more restaurants got an A grade on their initial inspection since the start of the program.

But that method overrepresents the number of A grades, since A’s will “stick around longer” — up to a year before another inspection.

“The city’s restaurant grading system is completely arbitrary . . . and most restaurants aren’t doing well on the test, which itself is convoluted and impossible to figure out,” Matusov said.

Working for the council’s Governmental Operations Committee, Matusov looked at how each restaurant performed during the initial inspection cycle to see if the new system was having an effect.

He found stagnation — about 30 percent of restaurants got A’s before and after the new system started.

“[The DOH] was saying to us that what we’re seeing is clear progress . . . There’s actually no improvement since before letter grading. It’s flat,” he noted.

“There’s been no improvement to overall health of New York City restaurants. It’s just a runaround game — we’re just trying to plug holes,” said Josh Grinker, chef at Brooklyn’s Stone Park restaurant.

Grinker said there’s no telling which violations, some having nothing to do with food, an inspector will target — for example, the construction of a non-food-contact surface.

“There’s something wrong with a department that’s supposed to be protecting the health of its citizens that isn’t looking at . . . factors that actually might have an impact on people’s health,” he said.

In March, the city tweaked its inspection system, making it less punitive by making a shift toward educating business owners first before fining them.

The DOH refused to answer any questions. The City Council, through spokesman Eric Koch, said that it “continues to monitor the restaurant grading system to ensure that it is effective in keeping restaurants safe for the public and that it is fairly administered.”

Canadian restaurant inspections uncover repeated, major violations

Canada’s (self-proclaimed) biggest analysis of public health inspection reports from national chain restaurants reveals that almost one-in-four inspections has at least one major violation, a CBC Marketplace investigation has found.

Major violations, such as improper food handling, inadequate handwashing and failing to keep food at safe temperatures, have the potential to negatively affect human health.

toronto.red.yellow.green.grades.may.11In the largest investigation of its kind, Marketplace analyzed the data from a year’s worth of public health restaurant inspections in five Canadian cities — Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Toronto and Ottawa — almost 5,000 reports in total. Two statisticians from the University of Toronto analyzed the data.

 “Food safety is a very serious matter,” says Jim Chan, a retired public health inspector who spent 36 years with Toronto Public Health. “The public has a right to know so they can make informed choices.”

In some cases, Marketplace discovered that serious problems continued even after restaurants were notified by public health inspectors:

A Subway restaurant in Calgary was cited by health inspectors three times for contaminated cleaning cloths.

A Moxie’s in Vancouver failed to keep food at a safe temperature during three consecutive inspections.

A Tim Hortons in Calgary was written up by inspectors five times for a fly infestation.

According to the reports, handwashing was a significant problem in most cities, as was general kitchen cleanliness.

sylvannus.toronto.2005In addition to the statistical analysis of report results, Marketplace used a hidden camera to document troubling behaviour at several locations.

​Retired Vancouver public health inspector Domenic Losito was alarmed by footage showing garbage strewn all over the kitchen floor at one restaurant.

​“At least try to get the garbage in the garbage can, but – I think I would have walked into this place, walked out and filed a closure notice right away. I just – it’s just unacceptable,” he said.

Restaurants Canada, the group representing the restaurant industry, refused to speak on camera about the investigation.

The group opposes the public posting of inspection grades, such as those used by Toronto Public Health in its award-winning DineSafe program. In Toronto, restaurants are required to post inspection results where patrons can see them. The DineSafe cards are colour-coded (green for “pass,” yellow for “conditional pass,” and red for “closed”) to make results easy to understand.

Restaurants Canada says the yellow cards are “problematic and misleading” because there are many factors that depend on subjective assessment and that grades present an oversimplified picture of safety.

The group says that consumers who want to know how a restaurant has performed during inspections should access the reports online.

While many jurisdictions make inspection reports available online, some do not make results public.

Fancy food ain’t safe food – Welsh curry edition

A curry house voted the best in Wales only last year has been fined £10,000 after food hygiene inspectors found rat droppings on the premises.

The owners of Llanymynech’s Bengal Spices, Rabiul Alam, 34, and Mizanur Chowdhury, 43, pleaded guilty to nine food hygiene breaches when they appeared at Llandrindod Magistrates Court this week.

Llanymynech’s Bengal SpicesThe restaurant was closed in November 2013 after Powys County Council (PCC) received a complaint from a member of the public.

Nigel Vaughan, prosecuting, said that inspectors found rat droppings in the toilets and the lobby near the kitchen area.

They also found evidence of “gnawing”.

Mr Vaughan said the restaurant displayed “unacceptable standards of cleanliness” and food premises, articles, fittings and equipment were not kept in a “clean condition”.

The court heard the restaurant had also failed to ensure food was thawed safely, while other food was found uncovered.

The owners also admitted to failing to follow procedures based on the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) procedure.
Magistrates heard they had signed off to confirm daily checks had been carried out.

Maybe don’t quit your day job? UK restaurant mentored by TV food guru Russell Norman given one star hygiene rating

A restaurant mentored by television food guru Russell Norman in his BBC show scored just one star in a food hygiene inspection.

A fridge at Desi Fusion – featured on The Restaurant Man show – was found with mouldy and dirty seals, staff were unsure of basic food safety practices and wash hand basins were missing.

Desi FusionThe Indian take away in Coventry was picked up on 10 points, which also included contamination risks from raw and cooked food being stored together.

The food hygiene report, released under the Freedom of Information Act, was completed in October by the city council.

Norman followed mum-of-ten Nahida Mahmood as she opened the restaurant the previous June.

The episode of The Restaurant Man, which follows people who ditch their day jobs to enter the trade, was broadcast on BBC2 in February.

Norman said he would “eat her food any day of the week”.

But the project floundered as the full-time social worker Nahida, 52, ignored his suggestions despite not having a firm business plan of her own.

Over £17Kin fines; mouldy food and filthy conditions at The Thali Indian restaurant shock UK hygiene inspectors

Conditions at a filthy East Yorkshire restaurant have been described as some of the worst that hygiene inspectors had ever seen.

Inspectors visiting The Thali Indian restaurant in Pocklington found mouldy food on counters, no soap for workers to wash their hands and raw and cooked meat kept next to each other.

The Thali Indian restaurant in PocklingtonPoppadums were kept next to rubbish bins and shish kebabs were on a sink connected to an extractor fan.

Owners Syed Muthekin and Mohammed Shofi Ahmed appeared before Beverley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to admit seven offences of failing to comply with food hygiene regulations.

They were each fined £8,933.

Prosecutor for East Riding Council Tom Spencer said: “The sink was obstructed by a cooked chicken, while shish kebabs were in contact with the sink hanging from the extractor fan.

“There was no soap or hand dryer for workers to wash their hands and the taps were dirty.”

The inspector also discovered temperature records had not been kept up-to-date, cooked and raw meat had been cross-contaminated and cooked rice was left at a highly dangerous temperature.

Paul Bellotti, the council’s head of housing, transportation and public protection, said: “This restaurant scored zero. They continued to show a complete disregard for their responsibilities.”

UK retail group fined £8700 over food hygiene offences

Food had to be removed from a village shop on four occasions and destroyed after safety inspectors found it posed a risk to public health. McColls store in Lytham Road, Warton, came under suspicion after customer complained milk bought there caused him to vomit repeatedly.

Altogether 465 items of food and drink, including many high risk items such as sandwiches, cheese and yoghurt had to be seized and thrown away, because they were being stored McColls store in Lytham Road, Wartonat the wrong temperature in chiller units.

McColls Retail Group Limited, based in Brentwood, Essex, pleaded guilty to 12 food hygiene offences.

The company was fined £7,600 with £1,140 costs and £120 victims’ surcharge by District Judge James Hatton sitting at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court who commented: “There was substantial risk to health had anyone consumed these items.”

Clare Holmes, prosecuting for Fylde Borough Council, said on June 18 last year environmental health officers visited the Warton shop following a customer’s complaint milk bought there had made him repeatedly vomit.

Food in the chillers such as cream cakes and pies was being kept at too high a temperature. A packet of ham was found to be “blown” with the packaging extending. The food was immediately removed from sale and staff agreed to stop deliveries of high risk food. But the next day when inspectors returned, they found there had been another delivery and that food had to be removed.

On June 21 inspectors again went to the shop following another complaint from a member of the public the chillers were not working properly. Again food being stored had to be removed, as it did also on August 1 because it was at too high a temperature.

Richard Orridge, for the company, said it owned 1,300 shops and had a good food safety record. 

Grand jury green lights color-coded inspection system for Orange County eateries

Eleven years after Toronto came up with the red-yellow-green restaurant inspection grading system, an Orange County, California, grand jury on Thursday recommended the county adopt a health inspection system with green, yellow and red placards, instead of letter grades, to inform customers whether food-service establishments are complying with the health code.

The county is the only one among its neighbors without a letter-grade system, and Thursday’s report was the latest attempt to give consumers OC.color.gradeseasily recognizable information. Previous tries here met opposition from the restaurant industry, but this time may be different, officials say.

The Board of Supervisors has three months to respond to the recommendations.

“I’m not trying to put restaurants out of business,” said Supervisor John Moorlach, who recommended a similar system in 2008, “but I want to make sure they’re doing their best to get a good green tag in the window.”

Patrons can get a copy of the restaurant’s latest inspection report online (ocfoodinfo.com) or if they ask for it at the restaurant, but hardly anybody does, said Russ Bendel, the owner of Vine Restaurant in San Clemente.

Colored signs “definitely will help guests choose where they want to go if they have multiple options,” he said.

The grand jury recommends using the same three categories as today, but coloring them like traffic signals. This is “a more practical approach” than letter grades, the report says, without the “disruption and burden” and expense.

“Improving the visibility of the current unremarkable graphic to a more distinctive image is an overdue step forward,” the report says.

It criticized other counties for “operating without any conformity” in their letter grades – for weighing certain infractions differently.