A reader named Craig has asked a very compelling question of Fridge Magnet readers. In case you didn’t see it in the comment section, here it is:
As a frequent reader of ‘Restaurant news’ at the Fridge Magnet I am always curious as to how many of you ever bother to visit the Virginia Department of Health website and review the health inspection records of your ‘favorite’ restaurants – such as Alejandro’s. With all the recent furor over the problems in the Market Building why is it that no other dining establishment in Roanoke is deemed too dirty to eat in? Just how many ‘critical violations’ is too many for you guys?
This is my response:
To be quite honest, Craig, I haven’t checked health inspections in a very long time. And that’s because I think the Virginia Department of Health does those inspections for a reason — so they can shut a restaurant down when it gets “too dirty to eat in.” That’s what happened at the Market building.
When I did spend a lot of time checking those inspections, I found many violations that didn’t really concern me that much. And I often wonder how many violations the health department would find if they came into my kitchen while I was cooking. I’m not saying my kitchen is dirty or that the health codes are too strict, I’m just saying they are in place to protect us as consumers and I don’t really believe there are a bunch of restaurants out there operating on dangerous levels and getting by with it. If an inspector sees a violation, he isn’t going to ignore it because it’s his job to protect us. And they follow up regularly to make sure those violations are corrected. If they are not, action is taken.
I will also add that I’m not an extremely squeamish person, either. I think squeamish people would hardly ever, EVER dine out if they checked inspections religiously. But I wouldn’t blame anyone for being turned off by a record of failed inspections. It’s up to the individual person. What do others think? And if there are any health department folks out there reading this blog, I would welcome your comments, too (anonymous if you wish).