• Action 9: Central Florida's dirtiest restaurants


    CENTRAL FLORIDA - Several popular restaurants are on our latest list of restaurants that kept breaking food safety rules. The restaurants had the most violations on state inspections.

    Action 9's Todd Ulrich went inside the kitchens to see how they could be putting your health at risk.

    An Orlando lakeside restaurant, a well-known chain in Melbourne and a popular fast food stop in Winter Park were among the restaurants Action 9's investigation found had flunked state food safety inspections.

    WFTV consultant Paul Cook, a retired federal food inspector, joined Ulrich inside the kitchen of the Clermont Chinese Buffet on highway 50.

    We spotted live and dead roaches, ice machine slime and raw chicken thawing in stagnant water.

    Cook called those risky violations.

    Inside the cooler uncovered raw meat was sitting right under evaporator fans.

    "Sometimes they can drip, that get into the food unprotected that can cause potentially hazardous problems," said Cook.

    At the hand wash sink there was a busted soap dispenser, no hot water and no towels.

    "I have no way to dry my hands," said Cook.

     State inspectors had found similar violations.

    "Do you tell employees they have to wash their hands?" Ulrich asked a restaurant manager.

     "Yes, yes, yes," said the manager.

    "They know that?" asked Ulrich.

    "Yes, yes," replied the manager.

    Action 9 reviewed 32,000 state inspections over the past three years to identify repeat offenders.

    The list included a Beef 'O' Brady's in Melbourne, La Granja Chicken in Winter Park and the Relax Grill at Lake Eola.

      At the grill, state inspectors found roaches and rodent droppings.

     They also witnessed an employee wipe their nose, then prepare food.

     The state temporarily shut down the restaurant last year.

    WFTV could not get inside the kitchen but on hidden camera spotted many of the same violations again.

    There were no screens on the kitchen window and door to keep bugs out. There was slime in the ice machine. And potential contamination, an employee's bare hand inside a big mayonnaise jar.

    "Talk about cross contamination with your bare hands. We saw that and it's not good," said Cook.

    The restaurant's owner told Action 9 the top manager was fired last year.

    She said she bought new kitchen equipment and made employee training a big priority.

    "We go through rigorous activities every day to make sure that the food, and the quality of food, and the health of our patrons is our number one priority," said Ivy Crowell, of the Relax Grill at Lake Eola.

    Managers at Clermont Chinese Buffet said they have taken many steps to correct past violations.

    Beef 'O' Brady's and La Granja did not respond to our questions.

    To find out for yourself if a kitchen is clean, you can ask to see a restaurant's most recent inspection report. It must be available for anyone to see; that's a state regulation.

    You can find a list of the top 20 worst violators by clicking here.

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