Local restaurants, dining halls make the grade

Salmonella may not be a priority in your concerns, but every once in a while, an isolated incident of food-borne illness makes an appearance on the six o’clock news. To be sure you’re not greatly risking your health at the dining hall, skim over the white inspection report hanging near the cash register. The bold number in the corner—two or three digits depending on how well the restaurant scored—will tell you most of what you need to know.

Like students, restaurants earn grades too. The Environmental Health Services Division of the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness is responsible for regulating more than 4,400 establishments in the county through inspections, plan reviews, complaint investigation and enforcement of the county’s food service code.

Inspectors regularly check all food service establishments to assure proper sanitation practices that minimize hazards from cross contamination, improper cooking, handling and temperature maintenance of foods, potable water contamination, improper garbage and refuse disposal, and poor insect and rodent control. Health inspectors issue a score between 0 and 100, where an exceeding amount of critical violations equals a failing score.

Inspections are performed approximately twice a year for each restaurant, unless inspectors are called in to investigate a complaint regarding improper food handling practices. Restaurants in Fulton County are required by law to post their most recent health inspection report in a conspicuous area of the restaurant, where the inspection can easily be read by patrons.

Here are the results from the latest health inspections of some local and on-campus dining options.

Rocky Mountain Pizza : 87

During a re-inspection that occurred June 24, 2008, a Fulton County health inspector cited the Rocky Mountain Pizza Company for five violations including the “presence of insects.” In the comments section of the report, the inspector noted that the “establishment must be free of roaches and flies at all times.” Rocky Mountain’s previous score was a 72. Restaurants generally tend to score higher on follow-up inspections as they are aware of problem areas from the health department’s previous visit and are given time to correct violations. Other areas where the pizza company performed poorly include food temperature, the sanitation of cleaning cloths and the cleanliness of the walls and ceiling. According to the inspection report, several potentially hazardous raw foods at Rocky Mountain—including ground beef, chicken and tomatoes—did not meet the required storage temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Lucky Buddha: 88

A Fulton County health inspector found a total of nine violations at the Lucky Buddha in Tech Plaza during an April 24, 2008 inspection. The Chinese restaurant lost points for failure to comply with the health code in areas of food protection, personnel, food equipment and utensils, floors/walls/ceilings and lighting/ventilation. The inspector noted on the report that employees were not wearing “effective hair restraints.” Other comments left by the inspector include instructions to “detail clean all food contact surfaces” and “detail clean floors. Everything must be at least 6 inches off the floor.” Lucky Buddha earned a 94 on its last inspection prior to this one.

City Café Diner: 94

Dropping three points from its previous score, City Café failed to meet the health code in the areas of food protection, food-contact surfaces of equipment and cleanliness and construction of floors, walls and ceiling. Comments on the inspection report include instructions to “clean [the] meat slicer” and “clean [the] mold off of walls near kitchen door and by [the] dishwasher.” In regards to food protection, the inspector noted that the food should be properly stored in a cooler.

Firehouse Subs: 96

Up one point from its prior score, Firehouse Subs had three code violations during its inspection on April 29, 2008. The sandwich shop was cited for problems with its food equipment and utensils and lighting/ventilation. In the comments section of the report, the inspector instructed employees to “detail clean all food contact surfaces (microwave, toaster)” and “use single service items that are individually wrapped (spoons, forks, etc.).”

Moe’s Southwest Grill: 97

According to the most recent inspection report, from April 8, 2008, Moe’s earned an imperfect score for failing to comply with the health code in the areas of food equipment and storage, water/sewage/plumbing and floor cleanliness. The inspector noted that Moe’s needs to “provide sanitary solution for wiping cloths” and “repair [the] leak at [the] food prep sink.” During its previous inspection, Moe’s earned a 94.

Woodruff Dining Hall: 97

This dining hall situated on West Campus maintained a 97—the same as its previous score—after an inspection that took place Oct. 18, 2007. The dining hall lost points for three violations: not storing cleaning cloths in sanitizing solution, ceiling tile problems and improper storage of cleaning equipment. Comments on the inspection report include an instruction to “replace the ceiling tile near the grill” and a note that wiping cloths were “being stored in a paper box.”

Brittain Dining Hall: 98

Like Woodruff, Brittain is due for a visit from the health department. The East Campus dining establishment earned a 98 on an inspection that happened nearly a year ago, on Oct. 16, 2007. The report is the most recent inspection Fulton County has on file for Brittain Dining Hall. Two violations were cited, including problems with the non-food contact surfaces of equipment, utensils and outside storage areas. The inspector wrote “[all] non-food contact surfaces must be cleaned as often as needed” and commented that the “dumpster area needed cleaning, particularly the grease on the deck area.” Brittain scored a 94 on its last inspection.