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Local Pest News - Mice Plaguing City Restaurants

Here’s a story from our very own local Philadelphia Fox news. Might want to double check that restaurant that you wanted to visit this weekend.

PHILADELPHIA – There’s a romance with food! All types of food, from the beloved cheesesteak to pricey steak dinners.

Much of it is served up by 12,600 licensed restaurants, fast-food joints and food carts slinging hash and flipping burgers all over the city. But all is not well in Philly’s food biz.

The Mission Grill on Arch Street is an inviting bistro of warm colors and polished wood. But a Department of Health Food inspection report shows, when an inspector showed-up here on March 22. 2012, he found conditions so bad, Mission Grill agreed to close immediately!

The restaurant was cited for 19 violations, including a food worker not hand washing properly, raw chicken and other food not kept cold, and mice.

Garzone says the restaurant had the perfect storm of problems but has now fixed all the violations, and the city allowed it to reopen six days later.

The Mission Grill is certainly not the only restaurant that’s had problems. FOX 29 investigates has obtained a list of 49 restaurants the city plans to take to court for three failed food safety inspections. That’s 49 in just the first four months of this year.

Palak Raval-Nelson oversees the food inspection unit for Philadelphia’s Department of Health. The department of health claims the famous 4th Street Deli on 19th Street is one of them.

Owner Russ Cowan complains you can’t please health inspectors. He says their aggressive enforcement is about raising dollars for a cash strapped city.

But an August 2011 inspection report at 19th Street shows over two dozen violations, including for mice.

The city official in charge of keeping restaurants clean and safe says it bluntly: Pests are unacceptable in a food establishment.

With its splashy, bright awning and large windows, the chain of Cosi restaurants is hard to miss. There are nine of them in Philly, some standing at busy corners like one on South 15th. Last year, it drew the type of attention no restaurant wants.

The syndicated program Inside Edition found mice romping around the place after hours. The management said they were not aware of any problems. But recent city food inspections of Cosi show the mice are back. And not just at the South 15th restaurant but in five others.

The general manager of South 15th said the mice come from the subway located below, and the recent inspection did not find them near the food prep area.

But she refused to speak on camera and said a district manager would call us. We are still waiting.

Thirty-six inspectors must check out over 12,600 licensed food establishments in Philly. Their goal is to hit each facility once a year and inspect high-risk locations, like nursing homes, four times.

Raval-Nelson directs the food inspection unit. She says they’re meeting their goals, but just barely.

Right now, in Philly, consumers must go to the Department of Health’s website and track down the inspection report for their favorite bistro.

We asked Raval-Nelson about posting letter grades (A, B or C) on restaurant windows, like they do in New York City and other places. But we do know one thing: The powerful, 7,000-member strong Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, with 500 members in Philly, opposes letter grades on state restaurants. In fact, they fought the idea in Pittsburgh, where it was rejected.

Using the Department of Health’s online database of food inspections, FOX 29 investigates took a look at recent inspection reports for restaurants in three Philadelphia zip codes: Center City, Old City and South Philly.

We found that almost 19 percent, about one in five restaurants, had mice or pest infestation or the conditions which would allow it to occur.

Source: Philadelphia FOX News

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