The now infamous New York City Kentucky Fried Chicken video, which aired nationally on numerous news programs and YouTube.com, has prompted Manhattan’s health department to implement a new technique in rodent control: Rodent education courses at there anti-rodent academy. Restaurant operators accumulating multiple rodent-related health-code violations will be enrolled in
According to health department sources, the city closed more rat infested restaurants during the “week of intense media scrutiny” following the KFC/Taco Bell incident than they had in past month. Here’s an interesting thought: Did more rats populate restaurants in an attempt to be seen on TV during that period, or, did the inspectors begin scrutinizing more realizing they were under microscopic exposure?
The KFC incident report claimed that the Health Department Inspector saw more signs of rodent activity than she reported to her supervisor. Simply put, the rat droppings were everywhere but she ignored the majority of them. Isn’t that ironic. That a city health inspector didn’t do an adequate job of inspecting a restaurant. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
We all know the drill- peek under the cabinet, shine a light in the corner of the walk-in, look behind the bag of sugar on the floor in the kitchen, (by the way, that sugar should be six-inches off the tile). On occasion, the temperature of food in the deli case is noted. The altitude of chicken in the cooler is observed, and the bleach bucket- if the individual inspector desires- has to be present and preferably a little cloudy to signify recent usage. We have all run water in the hand sink to make sure the basin is wet to draw attention that the chefs, waiters, and management frequently wash their hands. Especially after sticking them in dirty glasses to bring to the dish station, moments before picking up the entrée to deliver to table 23.
On a good day, most inspectors will keep the visit short, sweet and cordial. On a bad day, a chef’s jacket on the prep table or a hatless sous chef with long hair will garner a $50.00 fine- due and payable in 21 days.
Let’s go public with it, shall we? Health departments in most cities can barely figure out if there is any fresh cream in their refrigerators at the office. They are over worked, under paid, and are asked to implement standards and procedures that are definitely needed but not always implemented. Often, as soon as soon as the inspection is over the restaurant settles back into health code complacency.
Why not focus on the important stuff? A three-ounce portion of rat droppings, mixed with fried chicken, would appear more detrimental to an evening and probably do more harm than Trans Fats or duck liver.
But, that really isn’t the point. Good restaurants, with knowledgeable staff, professional managers and caring owners should be able to police themselves, making it easier for the health inspectors to do their jobs. And, as far as tickets, citations, fines, rat academy enrollment, and insignificant punishments, they should all go by the wayside. Cleanliness through punishment never works, except when cleaning your room as a kid before a pick-up game of baseball.
Mandate monthly pest control reports. Develop a system where the pest control company has to file the report, through a simple computer system, with the county or city health department. If thirty days goes by without a report being filed, the restaurant’s license is automatically revoked. The store is closed. End of conversation.
Possibly, the health departments across the country could begin their own pest control service. Charge the restaurant owner for the monthly inspection and spraying. Alleviate the rats, the mice, the cockroaches and the responsibility of an inspector to get on their hands and knees in a dark corner of a dingy basement looking for rat droppings as though they were Brendan Frasier in search of the Holy Grail.
Yes, close the academy. Buy a few trucks, a few white coats, and begin a monthly pest control service. Make it mandatory to have the certificate displayed. The public will do the policing. Then, just sit back, enjoy that burger and fries and turn on YouTube.com