Dirty Restaurants: Action 9 answers viewers' questions about what to look for

Updated:

ORLANDO, Fla. - Action 9’s Todd Ulrich recently put together a list of Central Florida’s worst safety violators with the help of retired federal food inspector Paul Cook.

In the wake of the revelations, Ulrich and Cook sat down and took questions from viewers during a Facebook Live event Thursday.

Below are some of the questions they were asked and their answers:

Why can’t they get shut down?

“We do know that some of these restaurants eventually are fined, but our studies and our investigation have showed that many times … it’s cheaper to pay the fine than clean up the kitchen,” Ulrich said.

“Florida, being a tourist area, they keep these places open a lot,” Cook said. “I think (the Health Department) is doing the best it can. I think they’re doing a good job, but it does happen.”

SLIDESHOW: See Todd's Top 20 Dirty Restaurants List

Why can’t Florida inspectors post restaurant grades in a prominent place?

“We’re working on that,” Cook said.

“Every year, we ask that question, because many states do,” Ulrich said. “Here, you have to go online and you can find the most recent inspection, but that’s not written for the average customer.”

“The ones we have to be careful about, the one’s getting Fs, are critical violations,” Cook said. “Like handwashing sinks, temperatures, temperature controls, personal hygiene, those are critical.”

Do they get checked at random or only when someone makes a complaint?

“Both, actually,” Ulrich said. “There are at least two random inspections and there can be an unannounced inspection generated by a complaint.”

Can you ask for the grade once you enter the restaurant?

“Well, you can’t ask for a grade in Florida, but you can ask for their most recent inspection, and by law they have to have that on the premises,” Ulrich said.

“You know, if during lunch they forget to sweep the floor and you find a napkin down there, that’s not a critical violation,” Cook said. “But if you go to the hand sink and you see no paper towels or soap, that’s critical.”

“Look for the critical items,” Cook said. “In the summary at the bottom, they’ll say, ‘Critical item, critical item, critical item,’ those are the ones that are going to get people sick,”

Where can we call if we witness an unsafe condition in a restaurant?

You can report it to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation or go to myfloridalicense.com, Ulrich said. 


See the full Facebook Live Q&A:

Next Up: