slides: 25 Providence Restaurants with Highest Number of Health Violations

Monday, September 02, 2013


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During the past year, the Rhode Island Department of Health inspected nearly 60 full-service restaurants in the greater Providence area -- and two establishments were found to have exceeded 30 violations in just one inspection each.

See slideshow of Providence restaurants with the most violations found during the past year BELOW.  

Full-service restaurants comprise just one of over 30 categories of establishments the Department of Health inspects, which includes schools, hospitals, assisted living facilities, colleges, pharmacies, and liquor stores, among others.  

Over the past year, the Department responded to 58 food complaints, and 69 foodborne illness complaints in total, according to Dara Chadwick in the Office of Health Promotion, who told GoLocal that the Department had recently bolstered its ranks of health inspectors.

"There are currently 13 inspectors that are independently workout out in the field, and 5 others are in training," said Chadwick.  The number is up from 9 inspectors in 2011, which GoLocal reported in November of that year.

"In an average week, there are approximately 145 total inspections," continued Chadwick. "In addition to this, the inspectors may do temporary events."  

Range of Violations Recorded -- and Restaurants Respond

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The Department conducts inspections when a new establishment is opened, a complaint is filed, or most often, for unannounced inspections.

The violations can range from minor observations to more serious transgressions, including cross contamination, lack of proper food storage, employees not wearing gloves when handling ready-to-eat food, hand washing, or sick employees at work.

Food establishments must employ at least one full-time, on-site, food safety manager if potentially hazardous foods are prepared.  The Department of Health lists on is website the available "Approved Food Safety Manager Training Programs."

For a number of restaurant owners and managers that spoke with GoLocal, the inspections are considered both fair -- and helpful.

"When the inspector came, she was fantastic," said Lucia Chacon of Ristorante Lucia on Atwells Avenue. "She was very helpful, explaining what needed to be done, which we took care of.  It was a very good thing."

Janet Russell with McBride's in Wayland Square said that for them, the inspection was fairly perfunctory, and was addressed in short order.

"We corrected everything that they found, nothing was major from a food safety standpoint," said Russell. "I got the [food] storage covers they asked for, changed where certain foods were located in the refrigerator, and addressed the pocketbook issue," referring to the observation that employees had personal belongings in the kitchen.

For a number of new establishments, the inspection was expected. 

"The inspection was conducted a few weeks after the restaurant opened. Since that time Mile and a Quarter has changed management and is committed to the highest standards," said Andrea Grenga Diciccio at the restaurant. "We fully respect the inspectors previous findings and have corrected any issues." 

One chef and owner, who asked to remain anonymous, was supportive of the efforts being done by the Department of Health to ensure safety.

"I know that some chefs might get adversarial, but I've always worked well with inspectors and have found them to be helpful," he said.  "It's not an enviable job, but it's a necessary one.  Sometimes some of the issues with temperature, such as things cooling down for storage, might be a result of catching us in the middle of production.  Most restaurants will correct anything pointed out on the spot."  

Public Data Available Online

The Rhode Island Department of Heath Office of Food Protection Inspection Report Access Page contains a searchable database of all inspected establishments in the state -- and also allows people to sign-up for e-mail alerts "when your favorite restaurant is inspected."  

The comparison listed below is for restaurants inspected in Providence-area zip codes between July 15, 2012 and July 15, 2013; establishments not looked at during this time are not reflected. 

Nearly half of the restaurants inspected in the city over the past year had less than ten violations reported during a single inspection.  Those with higher levels of violations were often inspected again later in the year, and for most of those restaurants, the number of violations found the second time decreased significantly.  

"This program is intended to help protect the safety of all Rhode Islanders," said the Department of Health's Chadwick.  


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