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Behind The Kitchen Door: Health Inspections



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Do you know whose hands have prepared your food?

When you leave the kitchen to go out to eat chances are, probably not. KDLT takes you behind the kitchen door and shows you what health inspectors are doing to make sure your favorite restaurants are making the grade.

Rhonda Milstead is the owner and manager of Falls Park Café in Sioux Falls. For her serving customers with the best service possible is a top priority.

Rhonda Milstead said, "If a customer sees something that's not quite right, I want to know it, because I want to do better the next time.”

And customers aren't afraid to voice their opinion.

Karen Ruesch-Vila said, “I always look at the floor in the kitchen, because that tells you a lot.”

Efrain Vila said, “I have a list, my own private list when I see those, I say exclude!"

And to keep customers coming back for more, restaurants and the city have to work together to keep their facilities in excellent condition.

LuAnn Ford, Sioux Falls Public Health Manager said, "We are very intent on inspecting when we need to be inspecting and very responsive to complaints.”

Keeping restaurants up to code in Sioux Falls is a big task. With six city health inspectors and hundreds of establishments, the city of Sioux Falls Health Department has a lot on their plate. However, their job is to make sure the restaurant is doing their part to provide a safe and healthy environment for customers.

That's why LuAnn Ford says routine, unannounced inspections are critical.

Ford said, “We can't say what they were doing the day before, we can't say what we were doing after. But because the inspections are unannounced and random, we are attempting to see the facilities as they would operate on any given day.”

Milstead said, "It's always nerve racking when someone comes in. It's like when a policeman pulls up to you and you are like oh no did I do something wrong? It's important. If it wasn't important to you, you wouldn't be nervous."

The inspections are divided into 44 critical and non-critical items that total up to 100 points. They note everything from proper holding temperatures for food, to good hygiene before, during and after handling food.

So how can you find out if your favorite restaurant passed the test? It's as simple as a click of a mouse.

Ford said, “You can view all of the food service inspections here in Sioux Falls and you can see the scores and if you click on the inspection, you can see the violations that were found at the time.”

According to the list, the majority of restaurants in Sioux Falls passed their inspection, many with flying colors. Falls Park café is one of them, receiving a score of 100 on two recent inspections.

Some restaurants didn't fare too well however. Asia, a sushi restaurant on Minnesota Avenue, which has since shut down, scored a mere 70 points. According to the Health Department, Asia did not shut down due to their inspection. The restaurant was cited back in March for not only cooking potentially hazardous food, but for storing raw meat above already prepared food and not properly sanitizing their cooking equipment and utensils.

Boonies Bar and BBQ received a score of just a 68 back in June. Critical violations such as not reheating food to the proper temperature lost them points. They also lost points when an inspector noticed a cook constantly using his phone and not washing his hands. Employees were also seen handling ready-to-eat food without wearing gloves. They failed to pass their initial inspection.

KDLT decided to reach out to Boonies for comment, however the owner did not return our calls.

While some restaurants have been cited, the health department says constantly checking up on those that don't pass the test, rather than immediately shutting them down, is a reason that they rarely see restaurants fail.

Ford said, “Our goal at the health department is to help a business succeed. Our goal is to have a facility do well.”

Restaurants that receive a grade of an 80 or below, like Boonies and Asia, receive an unannounced inspection within 30 days. However, those scores are not reported on the health department's website.

You can access all the most recent inspections by clicking here.
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