Roaches, rats, raw sewage: Health inspectors keeping tabs on local restaurants

Surprise inspections done 2-4 times a year

From graduations to family reunions and summer travel, it's the season for lots of dining out. In Alabama, restaurants get inspected two to four times a year on surprise visits. Those inspection reports with the final score in big numbers, should be visible when you walk in a restaurant.

County health departments handle restaurant inspections with their environmental staff. If there is an immediate hazard the department issues an enforcement action. We found fifty plus such actions in the past ninety days across the state. Restaurants were closed for roach and rat infestations along with "complete lack of hot water," "inadequate refrigeration," and "sewage backup into establishment."

Go to this link to search restaurants in your area:

A restaurant is closed if any of the following issues are found:

  • Extended interruption of electrical or water service
  • Complete lack of refrigeration
  • Complete lack of hot water
  • Sewage backup
  • Misuse of poisonous or toxic materials
  • Onset of an apparent foodborne illness outbreak
  • Or other circumstance that may endanger public health, including an inspection score of less than sixty

The State Dept. of Public Health says most problems can be corrected and the establishment re-opened within hours.

Here's a link of establishment closings for critical violations:

Scoring system:

  • A score of 85 to 100 - Establishments are considered to be in satisfactory compliance and are inspected on routine schedule.
  • A score of 70 to 84 - Establishments require a follow-up inspection within 60 days.
  • A score of 60 to 69 - Establishments require follow-up and re-inspection within 48 hours.
  • A score below 60 - Establishments are closed immediately.

Many violations can be corrected on the spot. Inspectors say the report is a snapshot of what they saw that day.

Live bed bug infestations were found at two Huntsville Hotels earlier this spring.

Each state sets their own rules for inspections. In Georgia those reports are posted like what is required in Alabama. In Florida you have to request to see those reports.

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