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Rats the Size of Beer Cans: Times-Pic's Inspection-Gate

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The Times-Pic got all down and dirty with an extensive look at Louisiana's lenient restaurant inspectors and their 'sporadic' and quite inefficient inspections on Friday. It's all a little scary, folks. Louisiana scores restaurants differently than most other states— without a 100 point scale, the ubiquitous letter grade, or a time limit for restaurants to fix critical violations— relying on only the judgment of sanitarians to determine any insalubrious offenses. A report released last month from the Louisiana auditor argues that these sanitarians fail to enforce penalties and adequately inspect high-risk establishments, and that they also issue permits to restaurants with critical health violations, all of which violates state policy.

Some New Orleans' restaurants apparently go years without inspections? Restaurant August wasn't even inspected in 2010, neither was Casamento's in 2011? and only eight restaurants in New Orleans have been shut down in the past two years, says reporter Richard A. Webster, "compared with more than 100 in Sacramento -- and more than 1,000 in Los Angeles in just a single year." Well, Ken Pastorick, head of the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals tells the Times-Pic that 'tourism is the lifeblood of New Orleans, so it would be counterproductive to shut down a restaurant unless it is absolutely necessary." But what exactly qualifies as absolutely necessary? Rats raining from the ceiling? Apparently not.Check out this Franky and Johnny's horror show:

In August, a customer lodged a complaint against the popular Uptown restaurant after rats "the size of beer cans" fell through the ceiling in the back dining room. The man, according to the complaint, said 'the waiter and his family had to run out of the dining area to protect themselves.'

rizzo.gifInstead of shutting down Franky & Johnny's, even temporarily, the state worked with the owner to narrow down their initial 31 critical violations to just 2 noncritical in less than a month. So why, amidst all the rodents, bugs, Peg Bundy cigarette salads, and poor freezer temps, are our sanitarians so lenient? Oh yeah, there's only 8 of them working in Orleans Parish, covering 3800+ restaurants a year, whereas Sacramento (a city of relative size) has 30 inspectors. The Times-Pic reports that New Orleans' sanitarians are overworked and apparently paid tens of thousands less than inspectors in other states. It's no gum wad in a crab salad, but still pretty sickening.

· Louisiana's Restaurant Inspections Can Be Sporadic, Uneven
· Louisiana's Restaurant Inspectors More Lenient Than Counterparts Elsewhere
· All DOH Chronicles [-ENOLA-]

Franky and Johnny's [Yelp/Jason L]