Editor’s note: This story has been updated since original publication to clarify that 2017 food safety violations are the most recent available.
Last year, approximately 565 Baton Rouge restaurants were popped for critical safety violations during inspections by the Louisiana Department of Health, which sounds pretty disturbing on the surface.
But a closer look shows most violations are far less serious than others. Inspections are conducted three times a year for two types of violations: critical and noncritical. Critical violations, if left uncorrected, can lead to food contamination or illness.
To be fair, some critical violations—such as employees drinking soda in the kitchen—are very common and relatively harmless. In fact, nearly every restaurant in Baton Rouge had at least a few critical violations in 2017, the most recent year for which records are available. Some restaurants’ offenses, however, clearly posed way more risk than most.
To identify the five Baton Rouge restaurants with the most serious violations, Business Report reviewed all of the nearly 4,400 critical violations recorded in 2017 from LDH public records. The violations were at not just restaurants, but also convenience stores, schools, nursing homes and other establishments that serve or sell food, which LDH also inspects. Volume and severity of each restaurant’s violations were taken into consideration in compiling the following list, along with repeat offenses and those that were not corrected on site.
Number of critical violations: 13
• “Food consists in whole or in part of a filthy, putrid or decomposed substance. A rodent dropping was in the container of sugar. Sugar was discarded to correct the violation.” Rodent droppings were found again during a subsequent inspection.
• Raw meat was not properly separated from ready-to-eat food. Raw chicken was found next to cut cabbage and over onions. Also, a current state food safety certificate was not held by the owner or a designated employee.
• Food did not meet hot- or cold-holding and service requirements. Though the buffet line should have been no lower than 135 degrees, it was found to be at 102 degrees. Also, broccoli that was cooked at 11:25 a.m. and should have been held at 41 degrees or below was found to be at 78 degrees nearly three hours later. The broccoli was discarded.
Number of critical violations: 20 in kitchen, 2 in bar
• Roaches and rodent droppings were found during routine inspections. During a follow-up inspection, the department reported “rodents are present in the establishment. Rodent droppings found in the dry storage area.” All single service items contaminated were discarded and pest control was scheduled.
• “Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food”—including rice, potatoes and soups—was held for more than 24 hours without being date marked. Also, mashed potatoes that were 10 days old were found still under refrigeration, and were discarded.
• Staff members violated personal cleanliness and hygienic practices. “Employee did not wash hands after eating and before preparing food.” Another ate a biscuit and then proceeded to prepare biscuits. Also, a current state food safety certificate was not held by the owner or a designated employee.
Number of critical violations: 15 in kitchen, 5 in bar
• “Multiple roaches were found throughout the restaurant.” Roaches were again found in the kitchen and restaurant on follow-up inspections made four days and four months after the initial inspection. Fruit flies were also found, and pest control was scheduled.
• “Food consists in whole or in part of a filthy, putrid or decomposed
substance. Flies on onions.” The food was discarded.
• Cold- and hot-holding requirements for food were not met. Though it should have been held at 41 degrees or below, chicken was found to be 58 degrees and shrimp 50 degrees. On the flip side, rice that was supposed to be held at 135 degrees or higher was found to be 126 degrees. The violations were corrected on site.
WANT TO SEE MORE RESTAURANT VIOLATIONS?
You can. All inspection reports are public record. Simply go to eatsafe.la.gov, where you can search for violations recorded at every restaurant in the state, as well as those at coffee shops, hotels, schools, nursing homes, grocery stores and more.
Number of critical violations: 30
• Customer complaints prompted multiple inspections, which led to violations including personal cleanliness and hygienic infractions, such as chefs not washing hands before preparing food and a “sushi chef eating sushi on the sushi line.”
• “Rodents are present in the establishment. Droppings found in dry storage area on the top shelf.” Also, a current state food safety certificate was not held by the restaurant owner or a designated employee.
• Cold- and hot-holding requirements for food were not met, such as rice being held in a rice cooker overnight. Several instances of cross contamination of raw and read-to-eat foods were also discovered, and “equipment/utensils which have contact with potentially hazardous food are not cleaned every four hours of use.”
Number of critical violations: 18
• “Food has been prepared, packaged, or held under unsanitary conditions where it may have been rendered injurious to health. Rodent droppings were in boxes holding open food containers.” The contaminated food was discarded.
• Bugs and rodent droppings were found in the dry storage area.
• Cold- and hot-holding food requirements were not met. Several cold food items were not held at 41 degrees or below as required, including mango curry found to be 61 degrees, rice keehur at 56 degrees and chicken at 57 degrees. All were discarded. Also, “potentially hazardous” food held for more than 24 hours was found not to be date marked on multiple inspections.