These are horrifying.
A Miracle Worker
Im not a health inspector but still relevant. The company that my restaurant is under does mandatory health inspections monthly and in extreme cases every 3 days. Anyway, my restaurant was known for having excellent scores for years. A couple of the head honchos from corporate shot me an email about a month ago asking for a meeting. I’m thinking “hell yeah, I’m getting a promotion! “. Fast forward to the meeting, they ask me to takeover this other restaurant that has been having major issues with safety and sanitation. I agree because I’m seeing a big fat bonus and promotion for fixing this place. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. I walk in the back entrance to my new restaurant and immediately smell rotting food with a hint of vomit. I was going to do an inspection after I met the crew but after that snell, I decided to begin immediately. I take a walk to the dish room and find dirty dishes mixed with clean dishes, mold growing on the walls behind the dish rack, and a broken sanitizer dispenser. I continue my walk into the walk-in, find mold growing in the walk in, food expired weeks ago, raw food sitting above cooked food, food stuck in the the cracks of the tile. I found about 4 inches of ice build up in the freezer, gluten free bread sitting on whole wheat. I’m f_cking beyond pissed upon leaving the walk-ins and head straight to the kitchen. This is where I lost my sh_t. Nobody wearing gloves, the once white walls are covered in weeks of food build up, the can opener is rusted, the prep sink drain has maggots in it, raw food was just sitting at a prep station with no worker present and without a time label, cutting boards were broken and still being used (incorrectly might I add), temperatures weren’t being recorded, cold rail was a f*cking disgusting mess, and I could go on. I called the head honchos and told them I wanted to close the location for at least a week to clean and fix this place. They gave me 3 days to do it. So I closed the restaurant that same day before we opened and tore them a new asshole. We ended up spending all three days working 12-15 hours a day deep cleaning everything. Currently, the restaurant is in a lot better shape and can actually pass a health audit. I’m still working on teaching the crew good habits.” (Source)
Retirement Can’t Come Soon Enough
Dead mouse floating in a bucket of sauce?- closed! Rat droppings in a wholesale bakery on equipment and many live roaches – closed! Pus-filled cyst in a pork roast – nearly hurled. Under cooked turkey about to be served in a nursing home – food thrown away. After 25 years though, they run in together – the Chinese restaurants, tandoor places, the hispanic and the african places (did you hear about that kebab place in England where a worker died in the middle of the kitchen and the guy kept stepping over him making food until the police closed the place down?) I also want to mention good old american joints in the states that would pull guns on the inspectors years ago. Let’s see – We had a Health Inspector get called into a crime scene by the police where there was blood all over the place. A robber shot the owners wife and the owner chopped him to death with a cleaver in the restaurant. When the police showed up the kitchen crew were eating pizza in the middle of it the mess. Not sure what the police wanted her to do that they couldn’t do – it was a crime scene! Oh yeah, speaking of the police, working with them can be nice (security), but sometimes it takes you to some nasty (non-food) places. I’ve been to lap-dance and strip joint places where you can drink and perform a gynecological exam of the girl on stage at the same time. All the while, in this craziness we are trying to get the operators to be responsible for food safety and having them learn things like HACCP, and Active Managerial Control, and at least the danger zone and how to and when to wash their hands. I’m looking forward to retirement. (Source)
Like A Boss
“Not a health inspector… or about me, but my mom has a related story. When she was in her late teens, she got a job working in a nice hotel’s kitchen, mostly because she knew a guy who knew a guy (etc) who owned the building. One day, they were serving an expensive buffet for some kind of event. She never did the actual cooking, she just waited/cleaned tables, washed dishes, etc. But on this day, she goes back into the kitchen for something, and notices that the head chef is noticeably sick. His eyes are all red, he’s sneezing and coughing, right on the food, and he’s not even wearing gloves or anything. So she tells the manager or whatever about the chef. He basically tells her to ignore it because this is an important event and they’re making a lot of money on it. So she goes to talk to the chef and he feels bad about it, but the manager said that if he didn’t keep working, he’d lose his job. So she starts yelling at the manager, telling him that this is wrong and that everyone eating out there is gonna get sick. He tells her that if she says one more thing about it, she’s fired, and to get back to work. So she spits in his face, tells him to go f_ck himself, walks out into the dining room and stands on top of a table and tells everyone to put down their silverware, because all the food is contaminated. Naturally, everyone got up and left and filed complaints with the hotel. She got fired, but she didn’t give a f_ck. Apparently they lost thousands of dollars that day.” (Source)
Cheap And Disgusting
“I used to work at a deli years ago. When I first arrived there were chicken breasts covered with bright green scabs sitting, uncovered in the walk-in. I asked if I could throw them out and was told ‘no.’ Two weeks later when we ran out of chicken for our salads, I was told to go get the by-now fuzzy green chicken breasts, cut off the green parts and salvage the rest. I avoided doing it, stating I had no time and did other things. My boss did it instead. I threw them all out when I was working alone the next day and told her we sold them. I quit soon after.” (Source)
Not The Nose!
“Used to be a pest control tech and worked in tandem with a health inspector in my region. We shut down a Chinese place 3 times in the course of a year. They used to leave frozen raw meat in sinks full of water overnight to thaw. Mice and rats would chew on them over night. In the morning they would just cut off the chewed bits and serve the rest. I consistently pulled drowned mice out of the fish, crab and lobster tanks. There were roaches, moths, beetles and worms in everything because they stored all dried food stuff in open rubbermaid bins in an attic room that wasn’t sealed. They had 4 kitchen fires in a decade because they NEVER cleaned the kitchen and grease coated everything. No one washed their hands and one day when I walked in the chef was picking his nose. We kept shutting them down, they would do a complete renovation and throw everything away, and then because our rules are stupid, they would get a 1 month inspection and be allowed to re-open. It was absolutely revolting.” (Source)
How Does This Go Unnoticed!?
“At a wing shop I used to work at, there was a sink where we would drain the blood out of bags of chicken before putting them in the fryer. Well, there was a leak in the pipe that was left unfixed for months. When the next health inspector came, he walked into the (luckily unused) storage room in the basement directly below the sink to find an inch deep pool of rancid congealed chicken blood.” (Source)
“One day I did an inspection at a burger place, and the owner was a real cheapskate and would cut corners all over, the guy taking my order couldn’t care less about what I wanted and the fry cook was a moron but at least enthusiastic. Anyway, I had to try the menu to make sure it was all prepared properly. The burger they prepared for me was vile, it was an old patty that was hard and they rubbed the buns all over the place. When I went to take a bite a fly flew into my mouth and I choked and passed out. I’m not sure what happened next but I woke up covered in dirt, like I had been buried in the ground and slid down to the burger place. Next thing I knew I was beaten over the head by the fry cook and some police officers calling me a zombie. All I was trying to do was let them know they passed.” (Source)
Word On The Street They Passed
“This one bar would let out “moderate” (I.e. would take a while to kill you) amounts of carbon monoxide in the basement about a week before health inspections to kill/drive off the rats and other rodents. To get past the inspection of the CM monitor they had a short guy hide and play a note on a recorder to simulate the beeping sound. Garbage bin was way too close to the door too.”
“Worked at a well known resort in the pocono mountains for several years. When I started the head chef had just been fired. For years he’d have the dish washers scrape cake from plates that were not completely eaten into a separate bucket. At the end of night he’d take that bucket of cake and make a new “IceBox” cake. The dishwashers they employed were all mentally handicap, which is why they never objected.” (Source)
The Rat Corndog
“Struck up a conversation with the health inspector as he inspected my kitchen; he told me about our neighboring restaurant he just shut down. While walking though to the freezers he noticed the frier had not been drained and the oil had congealed, but not before a rat had fallen in. It’s tail was protruding from the now solid oil. After bringing this to the attention of the manager, the inspector went on to find various violations. When the inspector passed back through the frier area, he saw that the solution to the frier/rat problem had been yanking the rat by the tail and cutting around the body before firing up the oil for the day’s needs. He had been having trouble/complaints with this place for months and after the rat corndog incident, he ordered the doors locked and restaurant closed.” (Source)
He’s Seen It All
“Going on 10 years as an inspector. Most dangerous is usually not the most disgusting. I’ve seen entire walk in coolers they were using at 55-60°F and the staff didn’t even notice anything wrong. I’ve seen piles of mice that died getting stuck in the grease behind the fryer. I’ve seen staff throwing raw burgers on the grill then making a salad right after. I’ve seen squirrels and birds roaming freely inside a bread manufacturer. The stereotypes are true, Chinese restaurant kitchens are almost always filthy.” (Source)
Only 2 Years?
Oh man – I was a health inspector for about 2 years in a super popular east coast beach town – here are some highlights (I can tell the full stories if there is any interest). Shut down a Chinese restaurant after I inspected them and found chicken sitting out at room temperature. I made them throw it away, but came back minutes later to see the food taken out of the dumpster and now being cooked with. Shut down another restaurant (super popular late night joint) after discovering their walk in was hovering around 70 degrees. I noticed a block of cheese that looked like a big green football where they had cut pieces of cheese out from the inside to avoid the mold. Shut down a restaurant (Steelers bar – Go Ravens) after I went in and they had been without water for 3 days (according to their staff), had no hand soap anywhere in the building, and only 1 of their refrigerators was within temperature. Shut down another restaurant after I caught the drunk cook pissing in the drain in the steam room as opposed to using the bath room. Another restaurant I was fighting with them over the location of a food prep station in an unfinished room. When I inspected the table wasn’t there, but I found a sign of stuff for them to do that they had forgotten to put away which said “put station away when health inspector comes, then replace when he leaves.” This is all just off the top of my head. I have many many more. One of my favorites was with the knife wielding sushi chef yelling at me while shaking his knife after I caught him substituting tilapia for red snapper. Probably the wildest thing I’ve seen is a restaurant where they were filming pornos in the kitchen after hours and using some equipment from the kitchen in fairly creative ways. (Source)
“Inspected meat and produce markets, in Detroit nonetheless. A particularly suspicious looking place was selling sketchy ground beef at a very low price. This guy had cases of rodent meat in his freezer. He was grinding it with his beef. Obviously that is highly illegal and he was shut down. Another place had maggots coating the bottom of their saw. Those 2 are the worst. Another guy was using a cut in half bleach bottle as an ice scooper. I told him he couldn’t do that. He only needed to go to the dollar store and buy an ice scooper. Well, a dollar was beyond his budget I guess as he just kept saying “f_ck you, you can’t tell me what to f_cking do, f_ck off, f_ck you, etc.” Well actually I can tell you what to do and they were written up.” (Source)
Easiest Inspection Ever
“I worked for a large international restaurant chain and a colleague of mine was one of 4 people tasked with doing internal audits of all the restaurants to make sure standards were being adhered to – this included doing a food safety inspection. His audits were unannounced so he got a real life snap shot of what was going on day to day and he had some pretty gnarly stories. His best one he told me: He started behind the bar and when he shined a light under the island in the middle of the bar there was a little forest of mushrooms growing up out of the floor. When he went out back into the corner of the prep area he got disoriented because one of the walls was “waving” like a flag. He got closer and realized they were actually thousands upon thousands of fruit flies just crawling over each other and covering the entire wall. Needless to say he didn’t need to look any further. He took a video on his phone, sent it to corporate and they shut the restaurant down and revoked the franchise from the owners.” (Source)
“This place in Northern Georgia. It was a big “fancy” looking restaurant kind of secluded near the outskirts of a small town. Really nice place with chandeliers and all that sh*t. Pricey too but usually busy and very successful. Anyways, at some point a customer is eating his food and his sausage has a fucking bite taken out of it. They complain to the health department and it ended up turning out that the place was reusing food left on customer’s plates. It was shut down shortly after.” (Source)
Probably Just A Tad Longer Than Overnight
“Past food safety inspector here. Was inspecting a pizza place. They use a “proofer” to prepare dough (think a big, warm, humid cabinet). I opened it up and a million flies flew at me. I closed the door and looked through the glass. Someone had left a tray of dough in the proofer for a very long time. The tray was filled with what seemed like a billion maggots. The dough had obviously been turned to liquid at this time. The manager of the store tried to tell me it was only left overnight. They will lie no matter what.” (Source)
“Not me, but my mother is a health inspector. She inspected a Chinese restaurant and in the kitchen there was a bucket of urine under a preparation bench. The chefs used the bucket instead of making the trip to the restroom.” (Source)