Public health inspection findings that will turn your stomach

Categories: News
rawbeef.jpg
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Studies released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that many of the people who prepare food for a living lack basic knowledge of food safety.

To better understand the origins of foodborne illness outbreaks, the public health institute looked at the habits of hundred of kitchens across the United States. Included, though not named, were restaurants in Minnesota

SEE ALSO: New website lists the food code violations at every restaurant in Minneapolis

Here are several key findings within the reports that will make you second-guess the value of your next reservation:

  • Close to two-thirds of restaurant workers do not wash their hands after handling raw beef, increasing the odds of spreading E. coli onto cooked foods
  • Two-fifths of restaurants do not use separate cutting boards for raw chicken and a quarter of managers admitted that they don't often use disposable gloves
  • Almost half of the vegetable shipments inspected were not delivered at the recommended 41 degrees Fahrenheit

Probably the grossest revelation came from interviews with employees -- almost two-thirds of whom said they had worked at some point in the last year while they were sick. Twenty percent of the same group also admitted that they had worked at least one shift "with vomiting or diarrhea."

That's right. Vomiting or diarrhea.

Should we be worried?

"Minnesota's statistics fairly mirror the national ones," said Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health. "Every time you're carrying a lot of food, and the number of customers are high enough, something's bound to happen. I don't want to sound fatalistic, but it's just numbers."

In 2005, the state health department confirmed 41 outbreaks involving at least two people -- including five cases of Salmonella and one case of E. coli -- and identified, though couldn't prove, another 13.

In one instance, a group of 20 maintenance workers in Minneapolis wolfed down roast beef sandwiches with a side of norovirus. Thirteen feverishly explosive hours ensued. State health inspectors put the blame on a single sick employee who'd likely been "shedding the virus at the time of food preparation."

It was a typical year -- at least until the mid 2000s. We would offer more recent stats but couldn't get them on short notice. Anything after 2005 is not available on the state health department website and must be requested. Although that sounds like more work, not less, Schultz insisted it was the result of budget cuts.

The state delegates some of its duties to counties and municipalities. An agreement with St. Paul was rescinded in July because of infrequent inspections and frequent errors in reporting.

Curious about a specific restaurant in your area? Call 651-201-5000 and ask for an inspection history. This site is handy for searching restaurants in Minneapolis.

A message left with the Minnesota Restaurant Association was not returned. Let's hope they're feeling OK.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to jmarx@citypages.com

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34 comments
lanalynch100
lanalynch100

Nasty! This is yet another reason why I try to stay in and cook my own food. You don't know what goes on in back of those restaurant kitchens. They definitely need health management services to help them. They shouldn't want to loose customers because they got sick eating their food.


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Luke Reynolds
Luke Reynolds

I'll stay away from City Pages Minneapolis...

Linda Zamora
Linda Zamora

Much as I love watching Chopped on the Food Channel Network, do you ever notice how much some of these chef's sweat while preparing food? Where is that sweat dripping? Scary thought!

Katsi Duzynski
Katsi Duzynski

Where I live in Missouri you have to pass a certified class, before a test - if you have not worked in food service before. It is not hard to take - and the questions border on common sense - as to food handling practices and safety issues in preparing foods, as done on line work and the like. Utah is similar - and you get a card that signifies you are qualified to cook and work in a kitchen. Even the dishwashers have to do that. --although they generally are not the ones cleaning the place later or preparing the food before a close at the end of a night.

TBooker27
TBooker27

@hotdishblog it's no surprise cooks work sick... I know of no kitchen that has sick pay for cooks/wait staff.

Kristin Kittleson
Kristin Kittleson

You don't get paid if you're sick in most food service jobs. Many companies will terminate you if you call in too much. So I don't blame them for coming in sick.

Richard Casey
Richard Casey

This article reminds me of Grand city buffet in Saint Louis Park a few years ago. I went when they first opened in the day to eat lunch and they brought out the dish rack for the buffet. I went to grab a dish and hundreds of roaches ran from under the plate I grabbed. The next person had the same thing happen which was really nasty. I was so upset because they tried to bring the dish rack back and tell me there was no problem and I was quickly asked to leave the restaurant by staff. I called the city health inspector to find out this place gets calls all the time for this problem but they pay the fine and go on with business as usual. I was really disappointed with the punishment and believe they should make restaurants disclose on the door or menu these violations to the public.

Leticia Moreno
Leticia Moreno

Why would you call the MN Restaurant Association? They aren't the MN Dept of Health or the National Restaurant Association. In fact, the MRA provides food safety classes (ServSafe) to teach employees (and employers) the do's and dont's in the kitchen. It is state regulations that all owners/managers be ServSafe certified. And yes, unfortunately it's only ONE employee per shift that needs to be certified. So the down side of that is that not everyone in the kitchen is properly trained. So, instead of calling the MN Restaurant Association, call the MDH or NRA!!! Oh, and these findings are MINIMAL to the number of eateries and people in our state.

Jeff Spicoli
Jeff Spicoli

A big part of the problem here is that most restaurant workers don't get paid sick time so a day of us a day without pay. Many can't afford that.

Ran Dazzle
Ran Dazzle

the twin cities is no better..ive been in the biz a long time and I have seen it all here..how about an investigation on why some restaurants get a 2 week heads up so they can scrub and clean(and need to) and pass then just go back to being disgusting?

David Olson
David Olson

I don't know what to think about this until you get Chris Kluwes opinion on it, thank you.

Helder Francisco Vieira Gomes
Helder Francisco Vieira Gomes

Did the people puke or shit directly onto the food? Or onto their own hands and then didn't wash thoroughly?

Jerod Greenisen
Jerod Greenisen

Dan Mason true, but there is some irony in the multiple advertisements for restaurants on this page.

Jerod Greenisen
Jerod Greenisen

Unless you do math like Tim Cheesebrow has below lol

Jerod Greenisen
Jerod Greenisen

The CDC focuses on 10 states; Minnesota being one, and the only mid-western state, wouldn't our fine chefs be a bit more concerned?

Von Döering
Von Döering

Tim Cheesebrow did the math. There are thousand more important things to get freaked out about in the news today.

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

City Pages wants you to be alarmed so you click their links and generate advertising revenue.

Mist Er Whirly
Mist Er Whirly

Gloves are a feel good solution. Washing your hands between every transaction/ food item is the safest way. I have seen people handle money with gloves on, then go right back to the food without changing. I even called a person out on in once and their response was "But I have gloves on." That doesn't mean they are clean buddy. Wash your hands for 30 seconds - then you know your hands are good. Worked in restaurants for about 14 years, was certified a number of those in sanitation. Every restaurant needs a trained and certified manager in order to teach the other workers good sanitation habits.

Chris Peden
Chris Peden

I think we are okay. Look at how other countries handle there food. Like those nasty food markets.

Aaron Nelson
Aaron Nelson

I worked in a Minnesota restaurant for 4 years were the owner refuse to buy gloves for a respectable amount of time. he also would serve food off the floor and out of the garbage. Like Kari stated much of this is not the employees fault, but under qualified business owners.

Tim Cheesebrow
Tim Cheesebrow

So wait... Assuming there are about 25,000 restaurants and bars in MN, assuming that they sell an average of 100 meals a day, 350 days a year (which is a conservative estimate) that's 875,000,000 meals a year. There's 42 cases of food borne illness, I'll even throw in the 13 unconfirmed cases and make it 55. That's 0.000000062% Every statistician on the planet would count that as negligible. Why would we be alarmed by this? I think it points to a stellar track record for public heath in our establishments.

Fred Haeusler
Fred Haeusler

Officials also noted that most of the vegetables delivered were not grown at the recommended 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anne-Marie Hoskinson
Anne-Marie Hoskinson

While I agree with this, it's only part of the problem. Workers can't handle food safely if they're not trained and supervised by someone who is also knowledgeable about safety practices.

Eric Itow
Eric Itow

Why do ppl go to work sick? Because ppl need to pay bills. Most restaurants pay $8-$12/Hr no pto or sick days.

Kari Dahle-Huff
Kari Dahle-Huff

The real issue is that employees who prepare food do not get benefits or sick time. Therefore staying home because of illness may mean the difference in paying a bill or feeding one's family. They are not paid a living wage and missing one day is not an option.

Eric Itow
Eric Itow

The person who wrote this article obviously have never worked in a restaurant.

Christopharr Carr
Christopharr Carr

UgHuGhUgH. I wear disposable gloves in my HOME kitchen. Erry body come eat at my house, $7 meat n 2... Guaranteed e. coli free since '93

Tara Johnderson
Tara Johnderson

I use to work for a Big Box retailer (whose HQ are in DT Mpls) and I can recall on a few occasion where people working with food were sick. One of day was on an annual Health Inspection check. Managers told the person to take 1 hour break till inspections were done. Then once the Health Inspection was done the person came back to work.

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