Don’t you just love reading stories about how disgusting every single restaurant in the world is? It really makes you want to pile the whole family into the station wagon and drop a bunch of money on a meal that might be prepared in absolute filth behind closed doors, right?
1. A Rating or Bust
So, my husband was a health inspector. Here are my two favorite stories:
He once did an inspection in a southern style place. While inspecting the fridge, he noticed they had cat food in there. Whiskas cat food. He was preparing to talk to the owner about not feeding strays, but instead she began talking about how she got a good deal on a pallet and no one could tell the difference. Yeah, she was using it in the tuna melt sand which. That place was known for its tuna melt. Second one: he got a complaint about a pizza delivery place. The complaint was that someone’s acrylic nail was on the pizza when it arrived. The person brought the fingernail to the health dept in a bag. It was ornate, painted with flowers, etc. he goes to the pizza place, begins explaining the situation to the manager. She says “uh huh, ain’t nobody around here lost their nail”. He looks at her hand and sees the other nine matching nails.
He says you should never eat anywhere with less than an A rating.
Not a health inspector, but someone in my city repainted their floor with non slip paint and literally painted over a dead rat, sealing it in there.
And to top it off, it was in the middle of the kitchen, not under a bench or anything similar.
3. “By his teeth”
Did food safety inspection at a large slaughterhouse for a while. We did our own inspections each shift and the government inspector stopped by once a day too.
One day, I came round a corner, and one of the workers who was running service for the butchers had dropped a ham on the floor. So, the proper way to handle this for him was to leave it there, and call for a re-inspector to come pick it up, take it out to carve off any contaminated bits and rinse it in boiling water.
Now it happened relatively often that meat was dropped on the floor, it’s just very very hard to avoid it when running in a factory setting with human labour. So this was common – what was uncommon was what the guy did.
First he tried catching it as it fell, which would’ve been fine – no contact with any surface and he could’ve just thrown it back into the tub it had fallen out of. He didn’t catch it though and it landed on the floor. Thinking that noone was watching, he tried picking it up, and dropped it again. He did this 3 times. So first and foremost he’s not supposed to be touching anything that’s been on the floor. It cross contaminates his hands and he has nowhere to put the contaminated product anyway. But he did this, 3 times, and dropped it 3 times(freshly carved hams can be slippery when wearing vinyl gloves). He then, out of pure frustration/annoyance at the unwieldy ham, dropped down on all fours, and proceeded to pick up the raw, freshly cut, 6 kilo ham – by his teeth. Stood up, ham dangling from his chompers – and dropped it into the tub with around 600kg of product – and drove off with the tub for processing.
He was fired a few minutes after that, and the entire tub of product discarded.
4. I’m always wary of Chinese places…
My favorite Chinese restaurant got shut down. My ex-wife worked for the city and I asked her what was the deal. She said the health inspectors found something leaking from the ceiling. They lifted the ceiling tile and shined a flash light and saw multiple eyes staring back at them. Turns out, they were raising chickens in the ceiling and chicken crap was dripping in the food that I had been eating at least once a week.
My friend was inspecting a restaurant – walked out the back to find a man stirring a huge pot of curry. With his arm. No spoon or anything, just up to his hairy elbows in curry.
6. Escaped Cow
My stepdad used to be a baker in an authentic recreation of an 18th century New French fortress. Because they sell bread to the public, the health inspector came by, and she was ripping into my stepdad for violations like the stonework walls, the doorless entranceways, or the lack of a mosquito zapper. He pointed out that they were following the highest standards except for things that would destroy the authenticity of this 18th-century bakery. The health inspector relented and agreed to give him a pass after verifying the food storage area was secure. They went to the shed, which was a doorless building attached to the bakery. As the health inspector went in, there happened to be an escaped cow licking all of the loaves. My stepdad could only say, “Honestly, this never happens.”
They passed the health inspection.
7. Road Lobsters
My stepmother is the lead health inspector for a decent sized suburban town. While I have never asked what the worst thing she has witnessed as part of her job was, I do know of one instance that was pretty gross.
A truck full of lobsters was travelling down the highway and crashed. The police came, and eventually they towed the truck. As a board of health inspector my stepmother was consulted to see if any of the lobsters were viable and she told them no, the load is a total loss since there were literally lobsters scattered across the highway covered in dirt, sand, etc.
Fast forward 24hrs and one of the restaurants in town ran a special: twin lobsters for $19.99! Apparently the owner of the trucking/towing company knew the restaurant owner pretty well so they made a deal whereby the restaurant would pay a very discounted price for the ‘road lobsters’. The restaurant would turn around and illegally serve the lobsters to unsuspecting customers or sell them out of a truck behind behind the restaurant.
I’m not sure what the repercussions were but I think they were shut down for like a week. They closed shortly thereafter and now there’s a new restaurant there. The towing company lost their contract to tow vehicles/semi trucks with the town and state.