13 Health Inspectors Share The Worst Food Violations They’ve Seen

Sometimes you get food poisoning and can’t quite pinpoint where it came from. Maybe it was the food you ordered the previous night? Maybe it was the seafood restaurant you went to for lunch? It’s almost impossible to tell after the fact. Unless you’ve ever been to one of these restaurants. Then I can say with 100% certainty, this is where you got your barf-inducing virus from. And you should actually be thankful you’re not dead.


1. hoffmantransfer — Some restaurant managers are absolute maniacs.

Was a health inspector long ago. Was at a Golden Corral, going through the kitchen area. As I was squatting down to check a dish washer, my foot broke through the tile floor and into a sewer pipe that ran underneath. Cockroaches come boiling out of the hole. Turns out the entire floor was rotten from a water leak in the sewer pipe. Best/worst part? The general manager tried to fight me when I told them they had to close down until they fixed the open hole into a pipe full of cockroaches and waste.

2. ThrowawayAdvice87 — Today’s secret ingredient? MOP

Late to the party but I used to work on my own as a baker in a supermarket and the cleaners would come in at 10pm at night when the last worker left and he would be finished by 2am when I arrived. Well one day I was half an hour early and I walked up to my department and the cleaner was mopping the prep tables and the equipment with the same water he had used to clean the floor. I wish I was joking. To use the mop on the tables to begin with is stupid but using he same water as well? Insane. I told his boss when he came in because I simply had to and his face was a picture. He really didn’t believe me until I got him to have a look on CCTV.

Oh I forgot, he wasn’t supposed to even touch the machinery, that was my job. So he was dirtying my already clean equipment.

3.  jordanleveledup — If I were a food inspector, I think I’d never eat out again. 

14 inch border of mold/dirt scum all the way around the edge of the restaurant.

Boxes that had 5 year old shipping labels blocking the path to the mops/ mop buckets/ mop sink.

No sanitizer buckets.

No sanitizer cloths.

No sanitizer.

Mold in the fans blowing over open food in the cooler.

Didnt bother finishing the inspection. Just shut them down.


Health inspector here! Here are my top 3:

•An old liquor store, which had once been the front unit of a housing duplex, had now coverted into full-service deli (sandwiches, fried chicken, etc.) without plan review, so they were severely lacking in all the proper space and equipment. Observed were:

-Rat infestation; droppings everywhere in the place -Mountains of old cast-off equipment in the back (giving the rats a home) -Meat defrosting on the hood of an inoperable car on the side alley -Back unit of duplex (now converted to food storage) had unfinished wooden boards on the floor, which were now soft and rotting from soaking up years of meat juice and everything else.

•While inspecting a chinese buffet, I noted to the employees that there were tubs of frozen fried shrimp stacked on top of one a other without covers, so they needed to discard the top layers of the food and put on the tub lids. As they scrambled to do so, they knocked over the tower of shrimp, spilling it everywhere. As I was standing there, they hurridly started scooping the shrimp off the floor and back into the tubs. I’M STANDING RIGHT HERE YOU GUYS.

•A guy ordered commercial sausage-making equipment delivered to his private home. Manufacturer got suspicious and tipped off the health deparment. Turns out the guy would go hunting all sorts of exotic game meat without permits, process them into sausages in his rat-infested garage (droppings the size of jelly beans), and was selling them to the public.

Don’t buy food from “home cooks” folks!

5. TheYellowRose — At least he took his vomit outside.

I once finished up a foodborne illness investigation, not finding much that could have caused the illness, and left. I parked my car on the other side of the street in full view of the restaurant I was just at. I watched the dishwasher come out the back door, light a cigarette, smoke for a minute, then hunch over and fucking puke all over the grass. Then he took another drag and went back inside. I have mild emetophobia so I got a bit of a cold sweat, then ran across the street and basically dragged his ass outside.

I’ve got a lot of stories, but that was the worst for me.

6. ratcnc — Well, did it actually happen or what?

In the mid-80’s I managed a pizza delivery store and the health inspector came by kind of late and asked me to step outside. He started by apologizing but it was his job to follow up when they have a specific complaint concerning food safety but this one was odd. He proceeded to tell me a customer complained that while they were in the store two male workers had sex on the counter and didn’t even wash their hands. I very dryly responded that couldn’t have happened as we ALWAYS wash our hands after having sex on the cutting table. With a small grin he said that’s what he thought and he appreciated our efforts. He was our inspector for several years after that.

7. LegendOfDylan — Quick, hide all the moldy Grand Slams.

I can tell you what they didn’t find. When I worked at Denny’s when the health inspector came the cooks took all the expired food out of the fridge and stored it in their cars and by the dumpster until after the health inspector left and then they put it all back. I ended up quitting that job after I got written up for refusing to change the dates on the labels of all the expired food, which was one of the primary jobs of the graveyard server.

8. Scoregasm666 — Love me some deep-fried battery acid.

Not an inspector, but my SO told me about what happened at at a popular seafood restaurant in my town. A guy working the fry station had a magnetic kitchen timer above the fryer stuck to the hood vent above. One day, the timer fell into the hot grease. They managed to fish out the main plastic part, but the batteries were nowhere to be found. It was determined that the batteries must have disintegrated into the grease. Being a seafood restaurant in the south, half the menu is fried. The owner is too much of a skinflint to stop serving fried food and change out the grease during dinner rush. So whoever ate catfish that night had it fried in a tangy alkaline grease.

9. Grabian_Aoggles — Those roaches and mice were eatin’ good.

Did pest control for 10 years and seen some shit. I happened to get picked to take care of roaches and mice at a very heavily populated Somali business type area. It span about 2 city blocks and housed restaurants and shops. It was basically a 4 wall warehouse partitioned off into sections inside.

The horrors of roaches and mice in these restaurants was unlike anything I have seen. Literally both creatures walking over your feet, over the food, on the counters, in and out of the coolers, stoves, food storage bins, you name it.

We eventually gave up rather quickly since the restaurant owners didn’t really care and didn’t help us out any by sealing foods and cleaning and whatnot. I had asked the owner of the building, the man who initially called us, why haven’t they been shut down by the city and he said, “because no white people come here so no one cares”

Never again will I do pest control.

10. confusedbossman — (Dory for you non-fish expert idiots out there)

So this is from the other side but pretty unique. A long time ago while I was in college I used to maintain aquariums – quite a few were in restaurants. There was an old school seafood restaurant that had a ton of tanks – great customers, and a cool place. I would be out there at least once a week for half a day making everything spotless.

This was before cellphones you youngsters – I am in class and my pager (yes, pager) is blowing up from their number. I call and one of the Mexican staff picks up and all I could gather is “please mr fish man you come now very big prolem emegerncia”.

I head out there and there are health inspectors there. So, for all the tanks I take care of if a fish dies I ask the owner to put it in a bag and freeze it so I can take a look and see if I can figure out why it kicked the bucket.

Well, one of their very old and very large, and pretty beat up blue tangs (Dory) had died and they had froze it per instructions. The inspectors show up to this seafood restaurant and first thing they see is this decrepit old fish, that had been munched on by the other fish in the tank along side the catch of the day. It was before opening, and only the Mexican staff were there who had no idea how to explain it.

I got it sorted out, but kinda funny 🙂

11. patbrochill89 — “And here we have the cardboard fish which pairs magnificiently with warm Sprite Zero.”

Guys it’s my first time in Bangkok, Thailand. I just went on a food tour. I don’t know if you know about Bangkok. But it’s humid as hell here. Some of the vendors had fish sitting in cardboard. Flies, cockroaches, rats, etc … as far as the eye can see.

I ate all the food though. I’ll let you know if I die.

EDIT: I’m past the 24 hour mark for the most questionable thing I ate. So we all believe we’re in the clear. Thank you all for your concern and especially the people who eat this food every day and reassured me that my concerns are completely valid. Haha

12. sgrmm — Oh fuck. NO. I will never be able to forget this one.

Not a health inspector, but heard this story through a guy who services my soft serve machines.

As info for those not in the ice cream business, most soft serve machines need to be cleaned (meaning fully disassembled, scrubbed, and sanitized) at least weekly, some every 3 days…

He got a call from a woman complaining that the vanilla side of her machine was coming out with black specks in it. Was worried it might be grinding up an o-ring or worse. He took the head off the machine and claims he nearly lost his lunch, as the barrel was infested with cockroaches. Apparently, the woman had never cleaned the machine in the several months she had been open. Somehow the roaches got into it (at night, the barrel stops freezing, and just keeps the mix cool, so it returns to a liquid) and were being ground up and expelled as additional protein. How long has it been doing this? About a week! Ewwww.

13. a4thpipeforsherlock — But who doesn’t love a bodega cat?

So, a friend of mine is a health inspector.

She walks into a local convenience store and discovers a litter box behind the counter. Totally unacceptable. Tells the proprietor that he needs to get rid of the litter box. That’s kind of a health code violation.

He replies, “Well, it’s for the cat. We’ve been having mice/rat issues.”

To which she’s all, “Ohhhhh.”

Cat walks up. She tells him he can’t have a cat in a food establishment. He hands the cat to his wife and she takes it out of the store to their camper trailer nearby the store. Waits for her to leave.

Rinse and repeat.

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