UTAH: Chain restaurants score better on inspections

Tonight, after a three-hour drive to Wanganui, I grabbed a bite at Subway. As I’ve proudly mentioned before, I was a sandwich artist back in the day, and could probably still make a mean sub. I remember how to cut the bread, fill the toppings tray and bake the cookies. I also remember fearing the local health inspector and the internal Subway inspector.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that chain restaurants have fewer critical violations than small local restaurants.

The newspaper analyzed the data on a city-by-city basis and found that during the past two years, locally owned restaurants collect more critical violations than their chain counterparts.

Critical health code violations pose the greatest risks to public health and include infractions such as storing raw meat over fresh vegetables or storing food at a temperature that promotes bacterial growth. Some restaurants had dozens of critical violations, including buffets, seafood restaurants and drive-ins.

Bryce C. Larsen, director of the Health Department’s Bureau of Food Protection, explained,

"National chains have the financial means and resources to do whatever is needed to address safety issues and employee training.”

Despite the statistics, that doesn’t mean you should avoid every neighborhood diner.

Larsen continued,

"A lot of smaller, family owned restaurants do extremely well [with the health department].”

Diners who want to ensure a Salt Lake County restaurant that they eat at is clean and preparing food properly can turn to restaurant-inspection reports for nearly 3,900 food service facilities on the Salt Lake Valley Health Department website.

And because I was a sandwich artist at the time, here’s a picture of Jared, the Subway guy, and his pants (right).

Sit and drink Salmonella tea?

Another in a long line of Salmonella in low water activity foods (here, here and here), Fireside Coffee is recalling packages of their chai tea due to possible Salmonella contamination. The recall includes certain flavors of the tea: spiced, chocolate, vanilla and decaf vanilla.

According to AP:

No illness has been reported. The recalled chai tea was sold nationwide at retail stores, through mail order and at art fairs. The recall includes select lot numbers of four flavors of the tea: spiced, chocolate, vanilla and decaf vanilla. Details: by phone at 800-344-5282.

Growing up in the age of grunge, Salmonella tea reminded me of the flannel-wearing guitar heroes of my youth, check out Nirvana’s Pennyroyal Tea below. This MTV unplugged special actually did blow my mind when I was 14.