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10 Gross Restaurant Health Violations

Are restaurants even safe?


We don't normally think we are putting ourselves in harm's way when walking into a restaurant -- and usually we aren't. But here are some horror stories that will make you think twice before letting the waiter (or waitress!) take your order.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hamburger... with finger


"A diner in Bloomington, Indiana found a finger alongside his hamburger when he dined at a local TGI Friday's. A member of the kitchen staff had cut off a portion of his finger and, in the confusion that arose when people rushed to help the man, the finger ended up on a plate. It was only a small piece of finger, but the diner noticed it immediately," it was reported.

At least he noticed it. Hopefully he asked for ranch dip.

Photo Credit: stu spivack

Rodent droppings


Mossfire Grill (appetizing name!) was recently shutdown. The "Jacksonville Magazine Top 25 Restaurant had over 300 'semi-dry' rodent droppings found, not only in the storage areas, but also in the dining area. I would love to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt. After all, rodent infestations can quickly get out of hand without being detected. However, the inspection also turned up black mold on the ice machines and splash guards as well as 'crusted material' on the slicer," EatJax.com reported.

We're guessing it won't receive any more Top 25 Restaurant nominations, unless there are less than 25 restaurants in Jacksonville, Fla.

Photo Credit: asplosh

"Pink slime" found


Planning a trip to Erie, Pa.? You may want to steer clear of Super China Buffet, which reportedly received six "critical violations" of the health code for a number of unappetizing reasons: "Black residue, pink slime found in interior of ice machine bin; food contact surfaces not clean; sanitizer not mixed or ready in food prep area; floor cooler not keeping food cold enough; raw chicken stored above pork; chemicals stored on same shelf as food."

The establishment also received 10 non-critical violations. (Weirdly another restaurant in Erie, Perkins Restaurant, also was found to have that super lovely "black residue, pink slime" combo in their ice machine... and "drain flies.")

Photo Credit: Totoro!

Mouse Feces Zone


The chicly named "Art Zone Cafe" in Chicago may need to cut down on the art and bust out a bottle (or ten) of rodenticide. An inspector "allegedly found mouse feces throughout the restaurant, including on top of cookware."

A gifted industry publicist might be able to spin that as a risqué modern art exhibit. Come on, Art Zone, where's your creativity?!

Photo Credit: be khe

Another Chicago cafe


The Heartland Cafe, also in Chicago, was found to have "rodent feces throughout the establishment, black, slimy mold dripping into water in an automatic ice machine, and food being stored in improper temperatures." The restaurant was ordered to throw out "about 24 pounds of shredded chicken, chopped vegetables and tofu."

Yum. Shredded chicken.

Photo Credit: ericskiff

Dirty Milwaukee


How about a week of fine dining in Milwaukee, Wisc.? Eat at your own risk: "37% of city restaurants [were] cited for serious health violations," The Journal Sentinel reported last year.

We tend to be optimists, though: that means 63% of city restaurants did not receive any serious health violations.

Photo Credit: compujeramey

Cockroach infestation: UK edition


The BBC reported that one of Manchester, England's largest restaurants, Tai Wu Cantonese, was fined £3,000 for health violations. What precisely went wrong? "Inspectors found an 'active' German cockroach infestation and a lack of cleaning of the premises and equipment."

We aren't exactly sure how an "active" infestation differs from a "passive" one, but it sounds pretty bad regardless. The restaurant serves around 10,000 meals per week. Photo Credit: k790i

NYC restaurant with 204 violations


This might be the grand-daddy of recent offenders: El Barrio Restaurant, on 110th Street in Manhattan, reportedly raked in an impressive (if disgusting) 204 violation points. The place was found to have "insects, cockroaches" (aren't cockroaches insects?) -- we are tempted to go there this weekend, just because we have a feeling the food will be super cheap.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Finger in the chili


Apparently finger food is more common than one would suspect! In what might be the weirdest Associated Press report we have ever seen, it was reported that "Authorities investigating the origin of a finger found in a California bowl of fast-food chili said Thursday they have uncovered no link to a Nevada leopard attack that cost a woman part of her index finger."

Alrighty then. Case closed?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

E. coli in the box


Jack in the Box faced a PR disaster (and an actual human disaster) in the early 1990s. Here's exactly what went down: "In January and February 1993, food contamination by E. coli bacteria kills three children in Western Washington. More than 450 persons fall ill after consuming undercooked hamburger or being exposed to infected persons. The source of the contamination will be traced to Jack in the Box Restaurants and to its meat supplier, Von's in California," it was reported.

E. coli outbreaks are serious business, albeit very bad business.

Photo Credit: prep4md

What you should know


Now that you are thoroughly freaked out, here's how you can keep yourself safe moving forward.

Your city or state should have a Department of Health (of some sort). Most of these departments have a way for you to search their violations database online: let's hope your favorite restaurant isn't in there! (NYC's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provides inspection results here, for example.)

Don't get too upset if your restaurant has a few violations: minor violations are fairly commonplace... you should be more worried by unusually large numbers of violations, or with "critical" and "serious" level violations.

To report a possible violation, contact your local Department of Health and ask to speak with the commissioner's office. In some cities, you can also report a problem by dialing 311.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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