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.”

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.

Cafeterias in Boston hospitals get failing grades

Boston is home to many of the nation’s best hospitals, but the I-Team discovered some of these institutions may not always be as careful with the food they serve as they are with patient care.

UnknownThe I-Team obtained inspection reports for 12 Boston hospitals and we found several facilities failing on many levels. Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Carney Hospital both failed inspections for not keeping food cold enough. At Dana Farber, inspectors found boiled eggs at 54 degrees, tuna at 53 degrees and chicken at 51 degrees. Carney Hospital also had food items above 50 degrees. According to Boston University nutritionist Joan Salge-Blake, anything higher than 41 degrees is asking for trouble.

Food safety is our top priority, but ‘you will sell the dough’ Bugs, mold on menu at Kansas stadiums

The food safety manager at Kansas City’s Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, home to the Royals and the Chiefs, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that poor food handling and dirty conditions have routinely been putting fans’ health at risk — including during the World Series. In addition, a city health department inspection completed Nov. 3 found dozens of critical health code violations at the facilities, according to documents obtained by “Outside the Lines.”

image008Among the concerns found at the stadiums by the manager: cockroaches in vending areas, mouse feces on the same tray as pizza dough, sinks where employees were supposed to wash their hands being blocked by boxes or trash, employees eating in food prep areas and trays of food headed for customers that measured at unsafe temperatures. The health department found several critical violations, including mold growth in ice machines, dirty pans and trays and excessive numbers of fruit flies.
“When we lose control over hygienic practices and we also combine that with poor temperature control — that could be a catastrophe,” said Jon Costa, the district food safety manager for Aramark, which runs the concessions at both venues and has food and beverage contracts with 30 professional sports teams. “That is a recipe for foodborne illness. … It’s very likely temperatures are abused every game. Every game.”

Costa sent information about the food safety concerns to local media and ESPN last week, a step he said he took after months of trying to get Aramark senior management to address his concerns and reprimand employees who broke food handling and prep rules. He said he had no authority to reprimand employees, and he was powerless on site because the employees he would have been instructing did not report to him.After learning that Costa sent those details to the media, Aramark placed him on paid administrative leave last week for violating its media policy, Costa said.

image009Marc Bruno, chief operating officer of Aramark Sports and Entertainment, said last week that Costa’s photographs and descriptions were “just allegations at this point,” and the company has addressed problems that Costa has raised throughout his 2 years with the company.

“It’s completely contrary to everything that we have done in there,” Bruno said. “Food safety is the top priority, No. 1 at Aramark and No. 1 in Kansas City and all our operations.” He said both venues are routinely inspected by the City of Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department, which has awarded a number of concession stand food safety excellence awards at the stadiums in the past.

Tod MacKenzie, senior vice president of communications and public affairs for Aramark, also wrote a detailed response to “Outside the Lines.”

“The unsubstantiated claims raised by a disgruntled employee are very troubling, as is his unknown motivation,” MacKenzie said. “Especially disturbing is the fact that this individual is personally responsible and entrusted with managing food safety at the locations in question. …

“The random collection of isolated and questionable photographs that the employee distributed represents selective snapshot ‘moments-in-time’ that without proper context can support any number of conclusions.”

The Royals issued a statement, saying: “We take great pride in promoting an atmosphere at Kauffman Stadium that Royals fans of all ages can enjoy. The excitement and energy running through the stadium was on full display during the World Series and our partners, including Aramark, play an important role in creating those memories. Food and beverage is integral to the fan experience and Aramark has been a valued partner in delivering those services to fans. We all take food service, safety and quality very seriously.”

In July 2010, “Outside the Lines” conducted a comprehensive review of food safety at all 107 venues for professional football, hockey, baseball and basketball in North America. In that report, 62 percent of Kauffman’s vendors had critical violations, and at Arrowhead, it was 56 percent. Aramark began its contracts with Kauffman in 2007 and started one with Arrowhead, for general concessions only, in 2010. Costa said his position was created as a result of the “Outside the Lines” report.

Costa said managers have not been promoting food safety, especially among the food prep workers who actually handle the ingredients, as evidenced by a scene he described from the final game of the World Series on Oct. 29. The concession stands were running low on pizza dough, and a prep worker told him that she was left with a tray of dough that had expired Oct. 25.
“She says to me that she called our supplier and our supplier told her, ‘Do not serve dough that is expired,’” Costa said. “However, our manager stepped in and said, ‘You will sell the dough. You will sell the dough.’”

image007“Outside the Lines” heard two other accounts of the dough incident that backed up Costa’s description and indicated that pizzas made with expired dough were sold to customers.

Even if the dough didn’t pose a health hazard or sicken anyone, Costa said it set a bad precedent for workers.

“I think it says that, ‘Hey, we can sell any substandard food that we want,’” he said.

Meat in the Texas heat: I-Team uncovers unsafe meat deliveries

A months-long I-Team investigation found more than 30 instances of restaurant employees transporting meat without refrigeration from a San Antonio food distributor.

A majority of the footage was captured in August and September, as restaurant employees left Restaurant Depot in the 3300 block of Fredericksburg Rd.

Two large banners hang outside of Restaurant Depot, imploring customers to ‘Keep it Kool’.

Some of the footage appears to show delivery practices which violate city and state health codes.

The Texas Food Establishment Rules require transported meat to remain at 41 degrees or less in order to keep it out of the so-called ‘food danger zone’, a

temperature range from 41 degrees to 140 degrees that allows harmful bacteria to grow most rapidly.

Foodborne organisms, which can cause food poisoning, grow at the fastest rate between 70 degrees and 117 degrees.

“Any boxed meat or anything like that, you would want to keep in some kind of cooler, with some kind of cooling media, dry ice, wet ice or frozen ice packs,” said Stephen Barscewski, Sanitarian Services Manager for San Antonio Metropolitan Health.

Barscewski analyzed some of the footage captured by the I-Team, pointing out instances that would likely result in health inspectors issuing the restaurants citations.

August 28, the I-Team captured footage of the owner of Daddy’s Burgers and More loading raw chicken into the trunk of a car, with the help of a Restaurant Depot employee. We followed the car as it made its way to the restaurant’s Stone Oak location. From start to finish, the trip took 30 minutes. It was 98 degrees outside.

“You have risk there,” said Barscewski as he watched footage of the incident. He added that salad greens loaded with the chicken created additional concerns about cross-contamination.

“There’s a possibility of blood from the meat or blood from the chicken getting on your onions, celery, bag salad.”

Daddy’s owner Ruben Perales refused our requests for an on-camera interview for this story. Over the phone he admitted to the I-Team he failed to refrigerate the chicken when leaving Restaurant Depot. It is important to note, city health records show Daddy’s Burgers and More had perfect scores during its last three inspections, and no complaints of customers getting sick. Perales said he has now purchased thermal packaging to use when transporting chicken to his restaurant.

Restaurant inspections really are only a snapshot in time.

Inspector photos at Texas meat market expose roaches in sink, rodent droppings on rags

iPhones are wonderful, except when they get dropped in toilets. A camera in your pocket that can take pics, record video, and then immediately send it off. This one time, I was threatened by one of the crims living next door, and Amy had her iPhone ready to record whatever may have happened (nothing did other than posturing, or as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott would say, referring to Putin, a full-on shirt-front).

rodent.poop.ragsAn inspector scouring Texas Meats of Brownsville found evidence of roaches and rodents, according to a health report.

The two violations accounted for six demerits at the location on 1395 Military Highway last month.

Inspector photos obtained by the Food Patrol documented the violations.

Dead roaches were seen inside a sink.

Rodent poop was found on top of containers and on rags (exactly as shown, right).

The business was ordered to fumigate within 24 hours.

The Food Patrol reached out to management for a comment but Action 4 News has not yet heard back.