Kitchen Contamination: A WTOL11 Investigation

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) – Food borne illness kills thousands of Americans every year, and makes hundreds of thousands more sick.

Although that includes food poisoning both at home and at food service businesses, keeping restaurants clean and safe can go a long way in keeping Americans from contracting food borne illnesses.

The Lucas County Health Department is charged with inspecting the kitchens of the 3,000 restaurants in the county. Inspectors examine employee hygiene, cooler and freezer temperatures, possible cross contamination risks and general cleanliness.

In addition to regular inspections, the department follows up on complaints from customers.  Last year inspectors followed up on complaints at 350 businesses, 20 of which were related to a food borne illness.

"You're really looking at what can get people sick or killed, those critical violations," said Eric Zgodzinski with the health department.

The department re-inspected 400 kitchens in 2011, issuing warnings to 19 businesses that if violations were not corrected the case would go before a health hearing board.  That board has the power to shut down a business if violations continue.

The Stone Oak Market was shut down by the board in 2009 after problems with the sewer system caused sewage to back up on the store's property.

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