Restaurants with poor inspections should close, not be put on probation


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On Jan. 11, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on the scores many Lexington restaurants received after Fayette Co. Health Department inspections late last year. The results were not only shocking, but repulsive, and what resulted from scores wasn’t enough action.

Many restaurants received huge hits, like scores as low as the 60s on a 100-range scale. Convert this scale to the average college grading scale, and over half of these restaurants received failing grades, yet remain open– some even while on probation.

The cut-off score for failure on inspections is a 60 or below, resulting in closure.

Malone’s, a restaurant many Lexingtonians frequent for fine dining and pricier options, received a 67 for reasons such as potentially hazardous food more than 24 hours old that wasn’t date marked, potentially hazardous chili kept at an unsafe temperature, lettuce improperly stored on trash can, fish stored uncovered in walk-in cooler and more.

And restaurants conducting their kitchens in this manner can still receive a score high enough to remain open, as Malone’s just barely managed.

But on re-inspection, Malone’s was shy of a 100 because of more inexcusable violations– an employee wearing an apron into the restroom and an employee not changing gloves between tasks, dirty shelves in the bar and inadequate sanitizing.

These issues still weren’t resolved until a third inspection, when Malone’s still didn’t receive a 100, but a 98. How many chances does it take to ensure safety for your customers?

Closer to home for college students in Lexington, the University of Kentucky’s new Gatton Student Center was highlighted on the list for Campus Catering No. 1 and 2, operated by Aramark, receiving a 94 and 95. While this number looks much better than Malone’s 67, the violations are up to par. Employees preparing food without adequate hair restraints in one kitchen and the dishwasher wasn’t properly sanitizing dishes are just two of many items marked during inspection.

Restaurants with kitchens that pose health hazards should be closed immediately, not placed on probation. An excuse for improper storage of meat or employees not using adequate hair restraints doesn’t exist; these are just some of the simply inexcusable actions that should result in immediate closure.

If a restaurant can’t guarantee a healthy, clean and safe environment for the preparation and storage of food, they shouldn’t be allowed to conduct business until they can.