Does Monroe County have enough food inspectors?

January 11, 2017 11:23 PM

The Monroe County Health Department shut down the kitchen this week at Rochester's largest hotel. The Radisson had received violations two years in a row prior to the health department's closure earlier this week.

So does Monroe County have enough inspectors to properly cover all the restaurants in the area?

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We have been looking at how we stack up with other counties and what the federal government recommends.

We learned that Monroe County falls far short of federal guidelines, but when asked today if the county has enough inspectors, the Commissioner of Public Health told News10NBC's Amanda Ciavarri: "it's hard to say."

We wanted to how the rodent infestation was allowed to go on for so long.

Dr. Mike Mendoza, M.D. /Monroe County Public Health Commissioner: "As you may know we are responsible for over 3,000 restaurants and food establishments in the county, and we would love to be able to visit more often than we do. The reality is that we just can't get out to every place every time."

That answer from health director Dr. Mike Mendoza. But could inspectors "get to every place every time" if they were carrying a lighter workload?

Do the math: seven inspectors divided by 3,000 eating establishments equals 428. That's the number of restaurants each inspector has to visit each year at least once. 

The Food and Drug Administration says it's too many. It recommends a ratio of 1 inspector to 280 restaurants. 320 would be the max. We asked the county about this and spokesperson Brett Walsh says it would take this under advisement.

Nika Hilton/Rochester Resident: "I think what I look for more is...sometimes you can see back into the kitchen to make sure that they're wearing gloves and that they clean their stations and stuff like that, because that can be a problem too."

Nika Hilton of Rochester only eats at small locally owned restaurants. She has more faith they go the extra mile to keep them safe and clean. She worked at a prominent, local restaurant and says what she experienced was disturbing.

Nika Hilton: "Working there I saw that it was really un-clean, unsanitary and they only clean it for inspections..."

Rebekah Lorenz says she doesn't think about the safety of her meals, at least she didn't before now.

Rebeka Lorenz/Eastman Student: "The restaurants that I go to in Rochester are usually of a high quality. I respected the places where I go to eat, but I definitely wouldn't want to see that going downhill as a result of not having enough inspectors in the city."

We checked nearby counties. Onondaga County has a comparable number of food inspectors.  Erie County has three times more inspectors, but they are responsible for a variety of environmental inspections.


Lynette Adams

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