When we go out for a meal or grab something pre-made from the grocers, probably the last thing on our minds is how cleanly the kitchen is. Yet for a health inspector, that is always what is on their mind, and according to one food safety professional, sometimes things are far from appetizing.
The Most Disgusting Thing Found On The Job.
“I entered a facility to perform its first inspection after a new owner took possession of the building. As soon as we walked into the kitchen, it was an all out nightmare! Dishes caked with mold and remnants of food everywhere and drains filled with black slime! The worst was the walk-in cooler. When we opened the door, I almost hurled. The last owners must have closed shop on their last day and just walked away- leaving boxes and boxes of raw seafood, raw meats and produce sitting on the shelves in the cooler. Nothing was recognizable except the oyster shells. Everything was COVERED in black and green mold. The veggies had turned to limp slime. It was the most disgusting thing I have encountered.”
“Kitchen Nightmares” Is The Real Deal.
“I hate to say it, but nearly everything I have seen on ‘Kitchen Nightmares,’ I have seen during my inspections. Maybe not all at one location, but I have seen it. Ramsay does a good job of over-dramatizing things, but nothing I have seen as far as his “inspections” is incorrect.”
Sometimes It’s Not Food They’re Dealing.
“I heard a story of a co-worker finally getting into a place that was “never open” to do an inspection. When he entered the kitchen, there were some guys counting a very large sum of money on a prep table. He said he slowly backed out of there and the next government official to return was a cop.”
Sad And Absolutely Disgusting.
“I entered the restaurant just as the employees got there for the day. When I got to the walk-in cooler I knew something was wrong. I pulled out my thermometer and sure enough all of the foods were reading room temperature. The walk-in cooler had failed. It was an Asian restaurant and thus they had many pounds of fresh meat already prepped and ready for lunch that day. I had to tell the owner that it all had to be discarded. As I was leaving, I happened to drive around to the back of the building. That’s when I noticed the restaurant employees standing in and around the dumpster, retrieving all of the food I just made them discard. I got the displeasure of showering it with bleach to ensure it would NOT be used.”
A Whole Lot Of Nope.
“I entered the restaurant and walked up to the host to explain my visit and ask for a manager. He stalled me for as long as he could. After about 5 minutes, a manager emerged from the kitchen, shook my hand and then turned to lead me back to the kitchen. As he turned, a roach ran across the back of his shirt. I didn’t know if I should smack it off of him, or let it go. Luckily, as I started to swat at it, it fell on the floor and I squished it. He never even knew about that one! I did, however, inform him of the hundreds of them I found in a crack in the kitchen wall!”
Restaurants Don’t Always Do A Good Job Hiding Their Violations.
“Some things are easier to hide than others. Some things are just easy to spot, like walking into a facility and having the operator yell “GLOVES!” to the kitchen. It was a little obvious that they weren’t wearing their gloves. Since I didn’t see them without the gloves on, however, I couldn’t write it. A little further into my inspection, I saw a cook make a sandwich with gloves on, go into the restroom and come back out with them still on and go make a sandwich.”
That’s Definitely Illegal.
“When people want to hide what’s going on, they usually do. I’ve seen people scramble to hide foods in the trunk of cars, and I even witnessed the illegal butchering of a goat which they had tried to hide by throwing the carcass on the roof (dripping blood from the eave gave it away).”
Was It Used?
“I did find a used condom in a hand sink in a kitchen once. Bet there was some workplace drama of some sort there, just glad I wasn’t there to witness it!”
Sorry To Burst Your Soft-Serve Bubble.
“Sorry. Those machines can get pretty nasty, so it’s probably better to stay away from them anyway.”
What About Those Ice Machines?
“I’ve seen fast food operators store their open beer cans down in some of them. I’ve also some pretty nasty slime mold in some of them, but for the most part, there are far worse things.”
Pre-Packaged Is The Way To Go.
“I never buy sliced meats and cheeses from the grocery store because the chances you can contract an illness are higher than from some other foods. The slicers are a pain in the ass to clean properly and they are supposed to be cleaned every 4 hours of use. I very rarely see them cleaned at the frequency and using the proper method as they are supposed to.”
Restaurants Can Find Loopholes To Reopen.
“There are all kinds of loopholes. Around here, if they are closed down by the courts, they just sell the business to their brother, or wife or whatever and reopen the next day. Frustrating but people always seem to find a way.”
Bottled Beverages Are Looking Quite Appealing Right Now.
“Ewww…beer and soda lines and drains can get NASTY! They are hard to inspect because they are often in cramped dark areas that can’t be easily seen without taking things apart. They get something called ‘sugar snakes,’ which are basically a form of slime mold that form from the sugars and bacteria found in those drinks. They are just gross.”
Accidents Happen All The Time Restaurants Don’t Want You To Know About.
“I got called on a complaint that someone found a magic marker baked into their cake which was bought at a grocery store. When I investigated, the store had a policy against storing anything on the prep tables except for the food they were preparing. In this store’s case, someone had left the marker on the table, another person plopped the cake down on top of it to decorate it, and then slid the whole thing onto the cardboard bottom. The marker ended up in someone’s cake. This kind of stuff happens all of the time, accidents happen and the establishments are just trying to minimize everything.”
As For The Most Common Violations?
“Usually minor cleaning infractions. Improper storage was a big one too but that has a varying range of issues associated with it-,anything from food boxes stored on the floor, to actual cross-contamination being observed. Hand washing and glove use were fairly common violations as well.”