(WFSB) - Do you know how safe your favorite restaurant is?
Food safety has been a major issue, with several food borne outbreaks reported nationwide over the past year, so Channel 3 sent Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Parker out to see how restaurants in Connecticut are monitored.
Paul Rossi is a regular at Bertucci's in Avon and was surprised when the I-Team told him it had a rating of poor from the Farmington Valley Health District.
“I’m shocked, I bring my 10-year-old son there almost every Friday night, it seems like a clean healthy place to eat, and I’m just shocked,” said Rossi.
In an inspection conducted in late December of last year, a fridge in the restaurant's bar area was close to 50 degrees.
Warm enough that inspector Kevin Closter made them throw out milk and other perishables on the spot.
Closter's report also notes improper storage of food and cleaning supplies, rusty shelving in walk-in fridges and freezers, and other problems as well.
“I want to know the specifics of what's going on,” Rossi said.
Jennifer Kertanis is the Director of Health for the district.
She says the most popular place for visitors on their website is their restaurant inspection reports.
They're one of only a handful of health departments in the state that post inspection reports online. They also post each restaurant's history.
“If you see consistent poors, you might question why those things are consistently popping up. It is an indication that something didn't go right in that establishment on that day and we happened to observe it. As a consumer, you also have to know that we do address the imminent issues immediately,” said Kertanis.
The biggest red flag for inspectors is cross contaminatiom, which is exactly what was found at China Pan in Farmington.
The inspection report notes raw meat wasn't stored properly and food wasn't stored properly, including edible items being stored on the floor.
“One of the things I would want consumers to know if we, in an inspection, see the types of things that result in a public health risk, they're dealt with immediately. That's not anything we walk out of the establishment and say fix it in the next couple days. That's dealt with immediately,” Kertanis said.
The failing inspection at Chine Pan came early in the new year and a letter sent to the owner says what's most concerning to the health district is that many of the critical failures have been seen in the past inspections.
“We’re only in an establishment a few times a year, if you see something as a consumer like someone collecting money and going to make your grinder without washing their hands or you get a meal that's supposed to be warm but comes to the table lukewarm those are all things that consumers should be reporting back to the manager,” said Kertanis.
Something for all consumers to watch, but now the customers Channel 3 talked to will also be watching the inspection reports online.
“I probably wouldn't eat there until they have a better rating,” said Arny Goodman.
A couple days after Channel 3’s interview, both Bertucci's and China Pan were re-inspected and upgraded to a rating of "fair."
Bertucci's said they had no comment for this story.
We reached out to China Pan, but they didn’t return our calls.
All these inspection reports are available to the public but in many places, you have to go to the health department in person to look at them.