March 20, 2015

Cockroaches, stray knife among complaints against restaurants in the past six months

Print
Photo of McDonalds

Darrell Hoemann/CU-CitizenAccess.org

The McDonalds restaurant at Neil and Marketview in Champaign on Wednesday, February 25, 2015.

Restaurant complaints filed in Champaign County over the past six months have ranged from a restaurant running out of napkins to a cockroach crawling out of a customer’s food.

Ninety complaints were filed with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District from September through February. Nearly forty percent of those complaints were for fast food chains.

CU-CitizenAccess.org reviewed records of the complaints after filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the health district.

In 2014, individuals filed a total of 182 complaints, an increase of about 40 complaints from the previous year.

Complaints can be filed with the district online, in person, over the phone, or via email or by fax. The online complaint form can be found by clicking “investigating complaints” on the district’s website under the environmental health’s “Food safety” webpage. [http://www.c-uphd.org/submit-food-service-complaint.html]

In the past six months, McDonald’s received 11 complaints at seven of its Champaign-Urbana locations— three at their 1812 N. Neil Street location, two at 906 W. Bloomington Road, two at 616 E. Green Street, one at 1705 S. Philo Road, one at 601 N. Cunningham Avenue, one at 501 N. Mattis Avenue and one at 2909 W. Kirby Avenue.

Nearly 50 out of the 90 complaints were about employee practices, such as handling food without gloves and restaurant cleanliness.

At the McDonald’s located at 1812 N. Neil St. in Champaign, a customer saw cockroaches crawling across the floor. The customer took a video but did not get a refund when the customer asked for it.

Following the cockroach complaint, a health inspector confirmed that there was a roach infestation in the restaurant, and there were “multiple complaints” about the issue.

The inspector noted in a report that the issue became “a larger issue than originally documented” because it was not resolved. The restaurant reported it switched from Orkin to Terminix to treat the infestation.

In an invoice to McDonald’s issued on Oct. 9, the Terminix manager said, “If we are going to have success long term in eliminating and preventing infestations, sanitation measures are going to have to be a focal point.”

The Terminix manager noted the “heaviest activity” was in and around floor drains, the triple sink and the warming table, and suggested the McDonald’s do a “deep cleaning” and remove all old food residue from equipment.

On Oct. 31, the health inspector called McDonald’s and noted the problems “should be mitigated soon.”

A manager at that McDonald’s said he did not know about the issue and declined to comment.

In another complaint, a woman claimed to find a knife wrapped in with the sandwich she purchased from the drive-thru at the Subway located at 333 S. Century Blvd. in Rantoul.

Corporate officials reviewed the Subway’s video footage from Dec. 14, the day the knife went missing, but could not find any conclusive evidence, according to the complaint report.

Jim Roberts, director of Environmental Health for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said some complaints are investigated sooner than others depending on the nature of the complaint.

When a person submits his or her name, address and phone number with the complaint, it is considered “formal” and the health district typically investigates the complaint in less than 24 hours if it considers it hazardous to public health.

If the health district does not think the complaint is hazardous to public health, it investigates the complaint within 10 business days.

Anonymous complaints are investigated at the restaurant’s next routine inspection, which could be up to several months after the complaint.

Complaint forms show that a health inspector typically follows up with a phone call or an in-person inspection for every complaint.