Posts Tagged pest-free

Welcome to the 21st Century. We Know Better.

seagull

 

Often, people don’t realize it, or perhaps they just don’t think about it, but there is such a trust relationship between dining patron and restauranteurs.  Though none of us can live our entire lives based in fear, we also have to be logical and mindful of valid threats and risks; food-related illnesses are so much more common than people know.  Many times, that food poisoning or “stomach bug” is a mild food-borne illness exposure, often a result of pest contamination in restaurants and other food-service establishments.

This week, another story of betrayal to the public hit the newsstands.  In East Rutherford, New Jersey, a buffet restaurant that has been shut down and fined twice in the four months they’ve been in business, was again found in violation of more basic health code requirements.  This time, for some reason, they are allowed to remain open on a “conditional” basis.

Their second closing, which occurred in March of 2013 (the first closing happened on their second day of business), was prompted upon a litany of horrifying violations including improper food temperature storage and food handling, sourcing food from unhealthy places, and the discovery of birds scavenging in food storage areas.  Despite that, it’s still one of the most popular restaurants around.  People line up at the door and around the corner, waiting to get into this place.  A “regular” shared his thoughts on the restaurant’s recent woes. “I’d go back. [The violations] don’t bother me. When I was in the Army during World War II, we fed 200 men with 10 mess kits, dipped our utensils in the same containers, and we didn’t get sick.”

It’s that ignorance-is-bliss mindset that is so concerning.  Sharing food with soldiers isn’t comparable to sharing food with birds.  There’s a vast difference between catching a common cold and catching  Seagulls carry all sorts of bacteria and highly antibiotic-resistant superbugs.  It’s 2013; we do things better now because we know better now.  We put our children in carseats, we wear bike helmets, and we don’t share common food containers and utensils amongst 200 people if we can help it.  We certainly cannot share our food with birds and expect to stay healthy.

So, what’s the big picture here?  Should you trust a restaurant with multiple closings and repeated violations?  That’s for you to decide, but there are so many businesses that honor that relationship of patron-service provider trust.  (That’s where I choose to spend my dining dollars.)  We have some listed on our PFE-Verified database and we are in talks with more restaurants that we hope to be adding very soon!  Learning about the threats that exist in some restaurant kitchens isn’t here to create shock value; the goal is always education.  Knowledge is power.  Connect with restaurants that honor their customer base and recognize the great responsibility they have to their customers’ health.  We can ask our favorite restaurants the question:  Do you have an exterminator spray your kitchen every month?  Are you willing to get listed on PFE’s database?  It’s a way that you can have peace of mind and your favorite eatery can have more visibility and recognition for all that they do right to protect you and your family.

POSTSCRIPT:  Today, April 23rd, we are launching a giveaway for a $50 gift certificate to PFE-Verified La Masseria, East Greenwich, RI.  You must be a Rhode Island resident to win this one.  Here’s the link to enter.  Good luck!!!

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Public Outcry: It’s a Game-Changer

I make an effort to keep up to date on what’s happening in the restaurant industry regarding both violations and victories.  Today, as I was working my way through the ever-growing reading list that is accumulating on my RSS feed, I encountered an article about some recent restaurant inspections that occurred in New Canaan, Connecticut.  Department of Health inspection criteria, rules, and regulations differ, not only between the New England states, but all throughout North America.  We have a PFE-Verified restaurant in New York City, with plans to expand further, so I educate myself on what’s happening in every region.

 

In the article about the Connecticut restaurants, the few businesses that were highlighted fared well during inspection, with the exception of one. (They were shut down for three days until their violations could be corrected.)  The comments section was what really caught my attention.

 

One commenter referenced her background of working in the restaurant industry and alluded to the conditions that she’s witnessed during that time.  She posted, “i’ve[sic] worked in the service industry and won’t blab about some of the things i’ve[sic] seen but, ignorance is bliss when you are out to eat.”

 

Her words gave me a moment’s pause. That sentiment is the perfect example of what I wrote about on Tuesday.  She’s the representative of what I witness and hear from so many people:  “Ignorance is bliss.”  Why are people so content to shut off their minds to reality when they eat at a restaurant?  Why don’t we ask the questions of our local restaurant owners?  Why do we require so much less of kitchen conditions where a paid meal is prepared than we’d ever tolerate in our own home?  [I’m working under the assumption that you don’t have mice running across your counters and roaches burrowing their way into your food containers.]

 

In 2011, in the state of Rhode Island, the Department of Health had only seven food inspectors responsible for inspecting the 8,000 food establishments that exist statewide.  That’s an impossible equation resulting in these commercial spaces being inspected (maybe) every three years.  And this isn’t a set of rare circumstances specific to the Ocean State; funding cuts have made this the norm throughout the United States.  It’s why we, the general dining public, must get involved and ask for accountability from the restaurant owners.  Because, when customers request services, managers and proprietors who care about their client base, respond.

State agencies just do not have the manpower to adequately protect us from food borne diseases.  These illnesses cannot be shrugged off as a 24-hour bout of food poisoning; sometimes they are fatal.  (I’ll be writing more about that next week.)  Eating out should be a positive experience, not some fear-based roll of the dice.  PFE-Verified’s goal is to identify the many restaurants and food service establishments that do maintain clean, pest-free conditions and get that information out to the public so that we can all indulge in some confident dining.  It seems so easy; doesn’t it?

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →