Restaurants Exposed: Restaurants not satisfied with new health inspectors

September 08, 2017 08:44 PM

Our investigation earlier this year revealed the Monroe County Department of Health did not have enough inspectors to meet federal guidelines. Since then, the department has hired seven new staffers essentially doubling the number of inspectors.

But restaurant owners frequently complain that the new inspector trainees are citing them with critical violations that never would have been cited before. News10NBC took that complaint to the Monroe County Health Commissioner in this week's Restaurants Exposed report.

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Salvatore’s is a name you know with 30 locations across the Rochester area. Its website boasts it delivers everything but babies. But recently the health department delivered an unpleasant surprise at the location on Scottsville Road in Rochester - two critical violations for its refrigeration equipment.

The founder of Salvatore's, Salvatore Fantauzzo, points to the restaurant's impeccable record saying. "That location has been there 18 years. It's spotless clean. You can eat off the floor." He went on to say, "The top of the sandwich unit and pizza unit were a few degrees above temperature."

He doesn’t believe the restaurant should have been cited with a critical violation. He pointed out the health inspector was brand new and may have cited them with a violation that a more experienced inspector would not have. He's not alone. Restaurant owners interviewed by News10 NBC frequently have that very same complaint.

Dr. Michael Mendoza, The Commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Health, defends the stringent approach of recent hires.

"We have a number of new ones and it takes time to get up to speed,” said Dr. Mendoza. “We're taking their training very seriously. But I would rather they be looking very closely rather than taking shortcuts."

At King Food Chinese on Norton Street in Rochester, health inspectors found two critical violations - one for the risk of cross contamination of raw and cooked food and another for the failure to wash hands. The owner, Jin Ni, told News10NBC she has since retrained her employees, and she got an all clear at a subsequent inspection.

She boasted about her loyal customers saying, "Everybody is very satisfied. My customers not only like my food but also because I'm very clean."

New Star Chinese in Rochester was cited by health inspectors with three critical violations including risk of cross contamination. A man who identified himself as the owner of the restaurant declined to give his name or explain the circumstances surrounding his violations, but he did confirm he had no critical violations in a subsequent inspection.

Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza says his inspectors will continue to follow the letter of the code even when it appears they're being too picky.

"If I had to err on the side of one or the other, I would rather that they be a little bit more picky and take advantage of the mentorship that we have here in the health department to make sure that we keep the public safe," said Dr. Mendoza.

If you have plans to eat out, here’s Deanna’s Do List:

1. Check the restaurants inspection record.

2. If you see a problem, report it.


Deanna Dewberry

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