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Restaurants Are Dirtier Than You'd Like to Know

Restaurants Are Dirtier Than You'd Like to Know

A recent study by the Center For Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has shown that restaurants are incredibly dirty. From moldy refrigerators to live cockroaches to unsanitary prep and cook surfaces, the study illustrates the huge number of restaurants that are cited with health-code violations. Sarah Klein, an attorney for the CSPI, explains why most restaurants have a long way to go before they meet the Food and Drug Administration's health codes:

Restaurants aren't motivated to pass a very high safety bar. A restaurant may commit violations that the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention would classify as most critical — improper holding temperatures, poor employee hygiene, food bought from unsafe sources, food that is not thoroughly cooked, or food surfaces that are not properly disinfected — without much fear of being shut down. Even violations that involve rat infestations or unwell employees (restaurant workers tend not to get paid sick days) also may not lead to closure. Restaurants only have the incentive to do what they need to do to stay open. The consumer would never know how close they were to being shut down.

While opposition is quick to point out that the inspectors could have been too harsh, I have a feeling the study's disturbing conclusions may be true. After all, Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares takes an insider's look at such kitchens. Although the findings don't list the restaurants' names, it does provide the public with a breakdown of the worst and best cities in terms of health expectations. To find out how your city ranked,


Austin, Texas: 58 violations in 30 restaurants

Boston: 63 violations in 30 restaurants

Milwaukee: 27 violations in 20 restaurants

Colorado Springs, Colo.: 46 violations in 30 restaurants

Kansas City, Mo.: 41 violations in 30 restaurants

Pittsburgh: 40 violations in 30 restaurants

Denver: 35 violations in 30 restaurants

Las Vegas: 30 violations in 25 restaurants

Washington, D.C.: 27 violations in 25 restaurants

New York: 32 violations in 30 restaurants

Atlanta: 19 violations in 20 restaurants

Portland: 25 violations in 27 restaurants

Baltimore: 14 violations in 14 restaurants

Minneapolis, Minn.: 31 violations in 29 restaurants

Chicago: 22 violations in 30 restaurants

St. Louis: 17 violations in 27 restaurants

Seattle: 16 violations in 30 restaurants

Philadelphia: 16 violations in 23 restaurants

San Francisco: 15 violations in 30 restaurants

Tucson, Ariz.: 14 violations in 29 restaurants


Join The Conversation
itsme3683 itsme3683 8 years
HonestMuffin, I don't think LA should be so bad because every restaurant has to have its Health Code rating (A, B, C, etc) prominently displayed, and in a lot of neighborhoods, anything less than an A is a death sentence for business. Orange County does that too. Unless of course you meant LA as in Louisiana, in which case, yeah.
rainonme224 rainonme224 8 years
I saw on the news about the kid taking a bath in the BK sink! Sick, makes me never want to eat there lol
Cortney Cortney 8 years
I live in Dayton. Some kid here just got in trouble for taking a bath in the Burger King sink where he worked! Gross! Link to the story in the Dayton Daily News:
Hoaxerz Hoaxerz 8 years
Even if the restaurant is up to code, the staff might not be. As a former server, I witnessed (and occasionally partook) in unhealthy serving 'techniques'. Usually nothing intentional... but if you're not nice to your server, he/she is less likely to care that a piece of your food was dropped on the floor, etc.
pjamgrl pjamgrl 8 years
Makes me want to eat at home..
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
after watching Gordon's show and seeing how AWFUL some places are. it makes you REALLY want to just eat at home seeing the nature of the kitchens and ovens and all that. it's NASTY. i think that we need to have strict inspection ratings and the sort so that we don't get sick!
suziryder suziryder 8 years
I have a tendancy to agree with imLissy. It's gross to think about how dirty the kitchen may be, but really, how often do you get sick from eating at a restaurant? Plus, some of those violations might be really minor things. Anyone remember that episode of Friends where Pheobe dates the restaurant inspector guy?
imLissy imLissy 8 years
OK, so let's say restaurants are really bad. How often do you get sick after eating at one? I think I've only gotten sick once after eating out, and that was at this BBQ place where I ate a serious amount of meat, which I'm not used to. What doesn't kill ya, right?
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 8 years
You're making me hungry... :P
AmberHoney AmberHoney 8 years
Nothing new to me, that's why eating at home is way better.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i won't even lie, i'm not going to read this. grosses me ouuuuttttt
esweet esweet 8 years
I live in Boston. Gross.
cmill38 cmill38 8 years
where's nola? the foods amazing but i'm well aware the kitchens are a mess. i just choose not to think about it. ick!
rainonme224 rainonme224 8 years
I believe it. I waitressed at a few different restaurants, and they weren't that clean. One had cockroaches all over the kitchen, and had a ton of fruit flies in the salad drawer. They also never washed a ton of the containers food was stored in. Another one I worked at let you work no matter how sick you were. I remember being throwing up sick at work on mothers day, and they wouldn't let me go home b/c it was too busy. Needless to say, I quit that day. Back at the other restaurant the other waitresses would eat the leftover food off peoples plates they didn't want packed up. Pretty gross. I'll never work in the food industry again.
HonestMuffin HonestMuffin 8 years
What about LA? I'm sure there would be a whole mess of violations out here..
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
I worked in a restaurant for seven years. It is owned by a corporation so they put in place even higher standards that what the FDA has. We always passed with flying colors and the inspector would have to nit-pick to get us on something (a drippy hose was one of them). I think putting in place higher standards than what the FDA has in place really helps.
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