• Restaurant violations: Are dirty kitchens cleaning up their act?

    By: Todd Ulrich

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Action 9 has identified restaurants that routinely flunk state inspections and could make someone sick.

    Action 9's Todd Ulrich analyzed thousands of state records to find kitchens that kept breaking basic food safety rules.

    Ulrich took a retired expert inside some of the kitchens to see if managers had cleaned them up.

    Photos: Central Florida restaurant violations

    Thai Thai House in Melbourne failed 18 state inspections in two years.

    The restaurant manager said Action 9's expert, retired food safety inspector Paul Cook, could check the kitchen to see if food safety issues had improved.

    Cook said he immediately spotted a sanitation rag, which is a basic violation.


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    He said he found raw chicken at temperatures that could make someone sick, which he said is a high-priority violation.

    The manager changed her mind and asked Ulrich and Cook to leave.

    Cook said that, in three minutes, he found three violations, including having no state-certified manager on-site, which he described as a significant problem.

    Read: Tainted gas: What it can cost you

    "You have to have a certified manager, someone trained in food safety," he said.

    Action 9 analyzed 55,000 state inspections since 2017 and identified restaurants with the most violations.

    Asian House in Titusville topped the list. In the past, state inspectors had found cooked chicken that was raw inside, live roaches, employees not washing their hands and hand-washing sinks being used for storage.

    A manager at Asian House would not let Cook check the kitchen. The manager said Chinese food is prepared in a different way and that inspection problems occurred two years ago.

    Action 9 found Asian House failed three inspections in a single month in October and that state inspectors had not returned in seven months, which Cook said is a problem.

    "The state should have followed up in a more timely manner," he said.

    Action 9's top violators this year include Steak 'n Shake on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in Kissimmee, Squid Lips in Melbourne and Sonny's BBQ in Titusville.

    Asian Gourmet, in Brevard County, caught Action 9's attention after failing 11 inspections in two years. Inside, Cook found a basically clean kitchen.

    Action 9 found one serious violation that involved raw meat thawing in the dish-wash sink. Cook said that is a high-priority violation that could affect food safety.

    But after failing so many inspections since 2017, Asian Gourmet would have passed Action 9's test.

    Photos: Central Florida restaurant violations

    Montana Coleman, a spokeswoman for Sonny’s Franchise Company provided Channel 9 with the following statement:

    "At Sonny’s BBQ, the health and safety of our guests is our top priority at every location. We are working with the independent owner and operator of the local franchise in Titusville to take immediate action to ensure that issues like the ones identified in this report do not occur again.

    "The locally owned Sonny’s BBQ in Titusville voluntarily closed its doors for the morning of May 6 to address health and safety matters. During this temporary closure, the Titusville franchisee and operator completed the following important steps to provide the best environment for the restaurant’s guests:

    - A three-hour mandatory food safety training meeting was conducted for all team members. The training was overseen by Sonny’s trusted third-party partner EcoSure, a nationally recognized restaurant safety/employee training and food safety firm.

    - In addition to training, the restaurant underwent a deep cleaning, and the owner has implemented additional procedures to their operations to maintain a sanitary environment.

    - An inspection was completed by the franchisee's local HVAC vendor to inspect all equipment and provide recommendations.

    "With support from the brand’s corporate headquarters, the Sonny’s BBQ team in Titusville is committed to the highest levels of food safety to ensure that guests continue to enjoy outstanding BBQ in the safest possible conditions."

    Photos: Central Florida restaurant violations

    Hamburger Mary’s Daytona Beach provided Channel 9 with the following response:

    "We have corrected all the issues identified by state inspectors. We have an older building, but we have never put our customer’s health at risk."


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