5 Ways to Spot an Unsanitary Restaurant — Health Inspectors

By: Sarah De Heer

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors in a restaurant? Starting tonight, Ben Vaughn will scour restaurants and cafes to find out if they come up to par with today's health standards in Food Network's newest show, Health Inspectors. Traveling from Louisiana to states in the Midwest, Ben examines and exposes the infractions of establishments and then teaches the owners, managers and staff the tools and procedures to follow in order to stay in business. Will these struggling establishments survive? Their success will depend on how well they follow the advice of our chef, restaurateur and consultant, Ben Vaughn.

Can you spot an unsanitary restaurant? We chatted with Ben and asked him for five tips that customers should be on the lookout for:

1. Restrooms: Check out the restrooms first. Are they clean? Check the floors. Are paper towels readily available and is the soap dispenser full?

2. Menus: Many restaurants use clear covers on their dining menus because they're easy to clean, but are they actually cleaning them? Check for fingerprints — and note whether the menu feels sticky.

3. Floors: Does it look like the staff mops regularly and with a clean solution? Some restaurants just sweep and sometimes I find that debris has been pushed into the corner.

4. Staff uniforms: Has the staff taken the time to clean themselves and wear pressed shirts and clean aprons? Take a special look at their shoes. Are they clean? Debris always falls on the ground in a restaurant; I would frequently wash my shoes.

5. Use your senses: Smell and look around. Uninviting smells like old grease or mildew are bad signs. Customers should be able to visually see everything unless they're at a romantic restaurant that has dim lighting. If the restaurant is poorly lit otherwise, chances are management is covering something up they don’t want you to see.

Tune in to the series premiere of Health Inspectors: 10:30pm ET/PT.

(Contributions by Kristina Mellegard)

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