McDonald’s Staffers Stall Health Inspector After Complaint About Roach Dropping From Ceiling

It’s not a good sign when the health inspector shows up to a fast food joint and is waylaid by employees who refuse to let him into the kitchen. It’s an even worse sign when the inspector still finds more than 20 violations after waiting 20 minutes for the staffers to presumably clean up the most egregious offenses.

It all began, reports Tampa’s WTSP-TV, in May when a McDonald’s customer complained to the state that a live roach had fallen from the ceiling into his food.

When the health inspector showed up, he was told he couldn’t get into the kitchen and to “take a seat.”

After waiting around and recommending that an administrative complaint be filed against the eatery, he was finally allowed to take a look around.

And he found what we’d label a bonanza of violations, including 25-30 dead roaches under the front counter and five live roaches near the kitchen sink. There is also the mysterious “toxic item” found near kitchen utensils.

In all, the inspector found 21 violations, seven which are categorized as “critical,” which is not usually a word one wants to associate with food service.

McDonald’s HQ is of course, taking this seriously:

The safety and cleanliness of our McDonald’s restaurants are of the utmost importance to us. We always comply and regularly exceed standards for health inspections. A recent health inspector’s report referenced a situation that was the result of confusion between the inspector and McDonald’s protocol. The restaurant staff followed procedure and received supervisor approval and the inspector was admitted to conduct his inspection. The findings were acted upon and the restaurant is in complete compliance with health regulations.

We take slight issue with the phrasing of “We always comply…” because this particular McDonald’s most certainly was not complying. These sorts of violations are not the result of an inspector just happening to pop by at the end of a particularly busy shift. Restaurants should not have to be told by a health inspector that having dozens of roaches under the front counter is a code violation.

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    So,o it was shut down, right? Right??

    • acrobaticrabbit says:

      Probably not. My mom works as a health inspector and she says businesses have a certain amount of time (it varies by county/state) to comply with health standards. But unless there are a certain number of “critical” items on the list, the restaurant may remain open. Then a second inspection takes place to see if they have complied with health standards and if they passed, they can still remain open. If they don’t comply or if there are new complaints, the restaurant can be shut down. Usually if a foodborne illness is reported by numerous people, the restaurant can be closed at the discretion of the inspector and his/her findings.

    • poco says:

      With SEVEN critical violations it better have been. If not I’m never eating out in Florida.

      • Jane_Gage says:

        I used to work at West Coast Video in college next door to a Chinese restaurant. One day they came in and asked me to fax a document to the health inspectors, I accidentally ; ) hit copy and we read it once they were gone. It was quite the laundry list: grease down the storm drain, utensils on top of cleaning solutions, insect/rodent activity, refrigerator below acceptable temperature, etc. And yes, a timeframe to clean it all up.

    • who? says:

      It varies by location, but unless there’s something really horrible that’s an imminent danger to everyone, they’ll be give some amount of time (48 hours back in my day) to clean up and get reinspected.

      In my high school days, I worked at a place that got a 48 hour notice. I think we had 9 critical violations, but what’s a “critical” violation for the health department is different than what you might think. For example, one of the critical violations we had was that any restaurant that had more than 15 seats had to have 2 bathrooms, and we had 16 seats and one bathroom (it was one of those old A-Frame Wienerschnitzels). The owner managed to get a waiver for that one, but plan B was to jackhammer up one of the seats.

      Honestly, despite the violations, there wasn’t anything going on at the place I worked that would have stopped me from eating there. We spent a night cleaning, installed a couple of air curtain doors, and never got below 90 on an inspection again.

      This McDonald’s, however, sounds positively gross. Live roaches? In the open during the daytime? Ewww.

  2. aja175 says:

    What’s wrong with a roach in a big mac? The customer should be happy there was some meat in that burger finally.

  3. Coles_Law says:

    The toxic item by the utensils was probably a bottle of cleaner left there during their 20 minute rush clean. from the sound of it, it certainly wasn’t used on a regular basis.

    As a former McD’s grill guy, we’d ocassionally have corporate knock us during a mystery shop for not doing the proper speech (e.g., asking if they want to try a new combo meal, etc.), but we never had a critical health violation, let alone 20 of them! Wow.

    • Here to ruin your groove says:

      Could be that or any cleaner that wasn’t properly marked/in a proper container near food utensils.
      I’ve lived in SE Asia and have seen some disgusting shit (like the overrun of mice in a Chinese restaurant after it closed for the night only to reopen as if nothing happened), but this truly takes the cake.

      Cockroaches falling on your food as you sit and eat in the daytime?? If the insects don’t give a shit about being seen/light, there is some serious nasty going on.

  4. RandomLetters says:

    Whats going on that the ceiling is getting soiled with food debris? I picture an Animal House style food fight.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      When I was much younger (and more beautiful), I worked in a kitchen cafe where we used to throw eggs at the ceiling when frustrated and busy and played baseball with the grill spatulas by trying to hit various food objects into a pot on the other side of the kitchen.
      The other stuff we did I will leave to your imagination.

  5. ninabi says:

    At first I misread and thought a roach was dumping tiny #2s upon customer from its perch on the ceiling.

    Ugh, roaches. I would think fast food places would be cleaner than most eating places because of years of cleaning protocols spelled out in corporate playbooks.

    • who? says:

      Indeed. Chain restaurants are usually cleaner than average, and McDonald’s in particular usually does a pretty good job of keeping its franchisees in line. I gotta wonder about this place.

      • Mark702 says:

        Clean, aside from all the garbage food lying around. If you can even call it real food.

  6. Joseph S Ragman says:

    Yummy! Don’t you jus want to eat there EVERY DAY?

    +1 for the added protein …

  7. gman863 says:

    I wonder if they also had SLIME in the ICE MACHINE?

    Sigh. I wish Marvin Zindler was still around.

  8. Blueskylaw says:

    The health inspector was given a number, told to wait 20 minutes and
    that his violations would be delivered fresh and piping hot when ready.

  9. JJJJust says:

    This McDonald’s had JUST had an inspection the week prior… and a lot of the stuff tagged on the second inspection could not have happened in a week…

    Let’s have a story on the lazy/easy inspector who was there before…

  10. Cooneymike says:

    The Health Inspector stated she worked for hours on her Tinker Bell costume and cried upon being told she couldn’t enter the kitchen. “What about my dreams? What about….”

    Oh wait, sorry.

  11. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Location: http://goo.gl/maps/EcX0

    McGross.

  12. AcctbyDay says:

    MARVIN ZINDLER!!!!!!!!

    I miss him.

  13. dush says:

    If it’s a health hazzard they shouldn’t be allowed to serve food.
    Otherwise what is the point? Just stupid regulations to make us “feel” safe.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Business interests lobbying the government have made it impossible to shut down a business for most reasons.

    • HalOfBorg says:

      You can’t go shutting down every place because of violations. You have to teach them to do it the correct way, make damn sure they do (more frequent surprise inspections) and fine or publicly shame them for it.

      We had a small store/deli near here that was inspected. One of the bteer things they found were knives used to cut cheese (on non-clean boards) being left in a drawer to be reused – unwashed.
      They said the rest was to terrible to print in the paper. That place never did re-open, owners probably moved on and did it again elsewhere.

  14. T. Bone says:

    I’m never going to McDonald’s again. The pink slim is a big turnoff for me.

    • aaron8301 says:

      If it took you this long to boycott McDonalds, ah screw it, do I even need to say more?

  15. crbullseye says:

    Any restaurant who refuses immediate access to a health inspector should automatically be closed for 3 days, no exceptions!

  16. Dr.Wang says:

    Probably most McDonald’s customers don’t care about what they eat, so I’m sure they really don’t care about roaches or even rats. It should be left open 24/7.

  17. 6T9 says:

    Because I read this on the Internet and I have done ZERO research, I will never eat at McDonalds ever agaaaain.

  18. BorkBorkBork says:

    There was a Spongebob Squarepants episode about something like this…

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      “We’ve killed the health inspector!”

    • Kuri says:

      Now a,re you thinking of the one where he and Krabs intentionally fed the inspector a rancid patty, or the one where Krabs forced Spongebob to sell an old patty he found under the grill?

  19. Nick says:

    McDonald’s has decided to adopt the food safety standards of its employees’ homelands.

  20. Draw2much says:

    Their manager must be a combination of cheap and awful. He ought to have hired a Pest Control company to spray around the grounds to keep bugs out, and then had his employees trained to keep the area clean. The fact that neither had been done really does not make the management at this McDonalds look very good.

    *Once again thankful the McDonalds in her area are run so well*

  21. Corinthos says:

    One thing that always annoyed me when I worked fast food was that Health Inspectors always made appointments or they new the day they were coming. Always found that the be bullcrap since those were the only days that we were usually up to code. This was about 10-8 years ago though so I don’t know if its still the same in my area.

  22. Jake Bechtold says:

    I used to be an assistant manager for a McDonalds for a few years. McDonald’s policy is that health inspectors needed to be properly identified and have management approval before going behind the counter. At the store I worked at, whoever was the highest ranked manager on duty at the time had just had to acknowledge this was going on. As long as we could properly identify a person as a representative of the health department, they were never denied access behind the counter. It may have taken 2-3 minutes, but they were allowed back.

    It’s also worth noting that a store with 20+ health violations probably wasn’t sitting well with the regional McDonalds supervisors in the first place. Unless there is something more to this story (which there could be), I would expect quite a few people be fired here… store managers and supervisors, and if this were a franchise owned store, it could mean serious trouble for the franchise owner.

    McDonalds stores may (okay, scratch that, they DO) get a bad wrap, but McD’s corporate takes this stuff very seriously.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      When running a restaurant and the health inspector shows up, you LET THEM IN THE FUCKING KITCHEN IMMEDIATELY. You don’t delay them to get a manager.

      Not immediately allowing them in is a violation in-and-of itself.

      • fadetoblack says:

        Knowing how insurance works and dealing with 16-17 year old kids (or anyone who could be duped by a phoney), it’s a reasonable policy that only managers can approve non-employee access to the food prep area.

        However unless s/he is on the can, I can’t see why any manager is more than ninety seconds from the counter.

        • selianth says:

          Yeah, it’s not a big deal to wait to make sure they have the proper escort while in the kitchen, but 20 minutes is too long. I used to work as a receptionist at an office building that had a cafeteria on the 3rd floor. The chef told me the procedure was always to check his ID, then send him on up in the elevator BEFORE calling the cafe to let them know he was coming. He didn’t ever want to give the impression that they were trying to stall the inspector or keep him away.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        Typing in all caps just makes you annoying, not right. No one goes into food prep areas who is not an employee or approved by management. You cannot correct any major violations in 2 minutes. It is hardly unreasonable or uncommon for a health inspector to be made to wait for a minute or two. They usually go ahead and inspect the dining area or restrooms, etc during this wait.
        Another reason to have the manager present is so that the manager can discuss any issues and how to correct them with the inspector. In a good restaurant with a decent health inspector the relationship is not adversarial. They work together to insure everyone’s health and safety.

      • Costner says:

        Wrong. McDonald’s, as well as several other fast food restaurants, have had issues with people posing as government officials and even police officers which has created a much larger mess than delaying a Heath Inspector for two minutes.

        There is a reasonable expectation that someone in an official capacity needs to be made aware of such an inspection, so it would not be a violation to ask someone to wait until a manager would be able to accompany him/her. Making them wait 10 or 15 minutes is a different story.

        Hopefully this helps, but if you prefer I type in all caps to help you properly understand just let me know.

    • Costner says:

      I agree McDonald’s (corporate) doesn’t mess around with this type of thing. I worked in a McD’s back in high school and they were always cleaning and sanitizing and self-inspecting. The district managers would come through and perform their own inspections, and they stayed on top of things before they turned into issues.

      I suspect in most cases when we hear about a bad store, it is due to the franchise owner and/or management that simply doesn’t care enough. They cut corners or try to safe costs by skimping on maintenance and cleaning whereas the typical owner knows spending a bit more up front pays off in the end.

      McDonalds as a corporation won’t stand for this and you can bet they will have a regional manager onsite at that location within 48 hours to find out what is going on. If the situation isn’t addressed by the owners and store management, I’d bet they threaten to pull their franchise agreement.

  23. dicobalt says:

    People who eat at McDonald’s care about health inspections?

  24. Sean says:

    You keep an inspector waiting for 20 minutes and they are going to look harder to find violations.

  25. Starfury says:

    A friend of mine is an inspector for the grease traps/sewer systems for restaurants. He says that the cleanest place consistently is In-N-Out Burger chains.

    He also gets to spend time letting restaurant owners (who have limited English skills) know that they have to pay to have the grease trap pumped out on a regular basis. Always fun.

  26. Craige says:

    Actually, “critical” is exactly how I would describe not just McDonald’s food, but fast food in general.

  27. El_Cheapocabra says:

    This is Florida. Most roaches in Florida are the size of family pets. They probably had some of the larger roaches in paper hats, working the drive-thru line. They needed the 20 minutes to make them leave out the back door.

  28. Eaglekeeper says:

    Why anyone would even consider eating McDonalds swill is beyond me.

  29. Bog says:

    Long time ago I was a supervisor at a restaurant. When the County Health inspector came by, we had to let them in to inspect immediately; if not the county could come down hard. The only thing I ever got tagged for was I had the hot water heater set way too high. Yeah… they said it was “unsafe” because I had the kitchen water set over 135 degrees. I actually liked the water REALLY HOT because I was OCD about sanitizing the dishes, and it got them cleaner so I had I cranked to 180°.