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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 009-07
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR MEDIA
(212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (after hours)
Andrew Tucker (atucker@health.nyc.gov)
Sara Markt (smarkt@health.nyc.gov)


HEALTH DEPARTMENT FURTHER RESPONDS TO RAT INFESTATION IN GREENWICH VILLAGE RESTAURANT

NEW YORK CITY – February 27, 2007 – The New York City Department of Health and (DOHMH) is conducting a thorough investigation into the recent case of rodent infestation in a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant located in Greenwich Village inspected last week. In response, DOHMH is taking the following actions:

  • The inspector who conducted the February 22 inspection that yielded a passing score (one day before the restaurant was closed) has been removed from restaurant inspection duty until the Department performs a complete review of this inspector’s work and determines a course of action. This staff person has been conducting inspections since June 2006.
  • The Department is reviewing previous inspections conducted by this inspector to determine if any were not adequately performed and will re-inspect as necessary within 2 weeks. This review will include comparing the average number of points on inspections performed by this staff person to the average number for other inspectors.
  • DOHMH has identified approximately 20 restaurants possibly owned by the same operator of the Greenwich Village restaurant. All of these restaurants will be re-inspected this week.
  • DOHMH has performed a series of rodent exterminations on the block of 6th Avenue in Manhattan where the restaurant is located.
  • DOHMH has referred this case to the Department of Investigation for review.

DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said, "The New York City Health Department has one of the most rigorous and effective restaurant inspection programs in the country. While day-to-day cleanliness must be maintained by restaurant staff, our February 22 inspection of the KFC/Taco Bell was clearly not up to standard. We are redoubling our efforts to ensure all inspections are conducted effectively so New Yorkers can continue to enjoy the best and safest food in the world."

The DOHMH is also reviewing its policies and procedures for restaurant inspections – especially those related to rodent infestation:

  • The records of all inspectors will be analyzed and any which cite significantly more or fewer violations than the average will be reviewed in detail.
  • All policies and procedures are being reviewed to ensure that complaints are responded to rapidly and appropriately.
  • Policies and procedures will be reviewed with all inspectors to ensure inspections are being conducted correctly.
  • A training specific to assessment of rodent infestation has been developed and will be provided to more than 100 DOHMH food service establishment inspectors within the next 8 weeks.

DOHMH is Reviewing its Policy for Inspections in Response to Complaints

All emergency food service complaints such as sewerage backups are addressed within 1 business day. Current policy for inspections performed in response to most non-emergency complaints about food service establishment (FSE) is to:

  • Send the owner/operator a warning letter;
  • Inspect on a second complaint received 3 weeks after the initial complaint, allowing the operator time to respond to the warning letter; and
  • Perform a full inspection of the food service establishment in response to the complaint (except for those related to expired or absent permit or complaints that occurred around the time of a full routine sanitary inspection).

DOHMH has Comprehensive Corruption Control Measures for Restaurant Inspectors:

  • Inspectors periodically rotate to different programs (approximately every six months).
  • Follow up inspections are conducted by different inspectors than those who conduct initial inspections.
  • DOHMH conducts a sample of follow up inspections with senior supervisors to assess accuracy of noted violations.
  • Weekly assignments are distributed by assigned supervisors and not by persons performing inspections. Inspectors arrange their own inspection sequence for each day of the coming week; this schedule may not be changed without permission of a supervisor.
  • DOHMH keeps a copy of the schedule so inspectors can be located and supervisory field checks made. The schedule is forwarded to DOI. Any deviations in the schedule proposed by inspectors must receive supervisory approval and be recorded.
  • All inspectors must contact a supervisor when an inspection results in 75 violation points or if other conditions warrant an immediate closing. A manager must authorize any closing.
  • The City has undercover agents to ensure City restaurant inspectors do not take bribes.

New Yorkers should report unsanitary conditions in restaurants to 3-1-1. For more information on DOHMH’s restaurant inspection program, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/rii/index.shtml.

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