We’ve had our favorite restaurants shut down before, and as much as it pains us to see our favorite comfort food spots go, there are reasons health inspectors decide to drop the hammer on these eateries. Stomach churning reasons. Damn, we wish Hood Rat Pizza was still open.
A question was recently posed on Reddit, asking health inspectors (though mostly friends and family members replied) what were some of the worst violations they had ever seen while on the job, and here’s what horrifying stories came from that question.
As always with Reddit, take them with a grain of salt.
Honestly, this never happens
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.
Leaking from the ceiling
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 celling. They lifted the ceiling tile and shined a flash light and saw multiple eyes staring back at them.
It was chickens. They were raising chickens in the celing and chicken shit 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.
Road lobster special
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 traveling 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 24 hours 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.
(Here’s a source for this one).
The ice creamer
I worked in a restaurant where the managers were good friends with a health inspector.
The coffee/ice cream shop next door was shut down out of nowhere and we were all shocked because they were pretty busy. Health inspector came in one day and manager asked why it was shut down. Health inspector proceeded to tell my manager that he walked in unannounced early one morning before the shop opened, only to find the owner jerking off behind the counter by the ice cream.
“Your sink’s leaking”
I was a dishwasher at a local restaurant for my first job at 16. One night we were cleaning up after closing as usual. I uncorked my sink just as we wrapped and left to do something else. As I stepped away, the waitress said, “Your sink’s leaking.”
I turned around to find brown sludge pouring out of the bottom of the sink. Not just that one but also the sink in the food prep area. The whole kitchen flooded with what I soon discovered to be sewage, complete with poopy bits and toilet paper. It rose up so high I was literally ankle deep in shit.
The waitress bailed and called her ex-boyfriend, the cooks climbed like Spider-Men out of the kitchen, and my manager locked herself in her office. I stood alone, 16 years old working my first job, and ankle deep in poop with a squeegee in hand. I mopped that kitchen until past midnight.
When I got home, I walked in like I’d been blasted by napalm. The next morning my boss called me in early. The damn restaurant opened the next day and served food like there wasn’t poop everywhere. Hell, when I showed up there was still solid poop in the drains.
I quit soon after and didn’t return for a long time. When I finally did pass by the place was closed for health violations. I wonder why…
My mom used to work at this restaurant where the owner just did not give a shit. It was a Mexican restaurant and my mom told me that once a lady came in asking for Caldo de res (beef soup) but they didn’t have anymore meat (at least not the one used for that dish). They were about to let the lady know, when the owner stepped up and told the lady that her food would be right out. The server and my mom were both confused as to what she was going to do.
Well this lady goes and literally DIGS THROUGH THE FUCKING TRASH and pulls out some beef (some still with bone) she then ran it through water, cooked it and served it to that poor lady. My mom says the lady was even sucking the bone and she almost felt sick watching. My mom quit that job soon after.
Fresh coat of paint
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.
The nastier the place…
My cousin was a Health Inspector for the City of Melbourne, Australia many years ago. Her advice? Never eat at Chinatown.
- Dead fish floating in the tanks of sea food restaurants, with barely alive fish in the same tanks.
- Slime and mold in said tanks.
- Rusty surfaces used as chopping boards and mold covered wooden chopping boards
- Raw meats prepared together with raw vegetables.
- The lady washing the dishes at the cash register was the same lady that cleaned the toilets and made the dumplings. She never washed her hands.
- It doesn’t matter how much you pay, whether you spent $200 on your meal or $20, they are all as filthy as each other. The most expensive and well known were actually the worst offenders.
- Cockroaches. Cockroaches everywhere.
- There is no such thing as an expiry date. Sauces mask everything.
There is a saying here though that many people are aware of: the nastier the place, the better the dumplings taste.
Soup of the day
My Dad was a health inspector, and is now retired. Of everything I ever heard, two jump out:
He noted the trays at a Chinese restaurant weren’t clean or warm. When he asked the employees, they acknowledged the heating element had failed, but that there was still chemical backup. Somehow, though, it wasn’t hitting the dishes. Then he saw a cockroach crawl out of the washer. Attempting to understand how the dishes were not getting rinsed, he found that it was backed up with cockroaches. They were ‘cleaning’ the trays. They ‘closed for remodeling’ for three days, but it was really cleaning up in order to pass inspection before they were allowed to open again.
At a similar restaurant, he asked about a pail on the floor filled with a green substance. “Soup of the day”, they told him. Dad asked what it was, and was told it was scraps. The bucket was never emptied, it turned out. The scraps going in roughly equaled the soup going out, which meant that there was stuff in there that had been there for weeks at room temp, on the floor. Dad had them dump it as he looked on.
A bonus story was when he caught a guy smoking in a kitchen, and exposed the cigarette behind his back with a handshake.
Super special salad dressing
My uncle is a health inspector in rural Australia. He got several complaints about a fish n’ chips shop in a small town in Victoria, with reports of it being a bit grotty and people getting chunks of hair in their hot chips.
So he rocks up one day unannounced on a blazing hot day in the middle of summer, and the owner greats him and shows him around wearing a white singlet top with sweat patches under the arms, short shorts and no shoes. This guys body was covered in hair. Not just on his arms and chest, but his back and neck were like a werewolf. Clearly, this must be the source of the hair in the chips. My uncle decides to make a tactful comment about having wear appropriate clothes when working, so as to protect against hot oil burns.
After seeing the property and giving a few basic suggestions, the only other thing he notices that needs immediate attention is the deep fryer itself. The oil is old and filthy, and likely full of this guys hair, so he orders the bloke to drain it out right then and there. The owner does so, and at the bottom of the oil vat is a dead, deep fried and crispy….cat. Totally unphased, the owner simply said “Oh, that’s where my cat went!”
Turns out a few months previously the shop was having a rodent problem, so the owner bought in a cat to catch them. He thought the cat escaped overnight and ran away. Nope. Looks like little Fluffy drowned in the deep frying oil, and Mr Chippy has been frying him up over and over and over again ever since. The clumps of hair locals were complaining about weren’t from the half-man-half-wolf owner, but the fur and flesh of a dead cat.
Stories have been edited for spelling and flow.