Astonishing and amazing, like the recent Pet Shop Boys concert I attended, what one can find during a restaurant inspection.
In mid-August, a customer complained about finding a roach in a hamburger from a Honolulu fast-food restaurant. Two days later, an inspector found dead roaches in a plastic paper sheet cover at the same restaurant.
The state sends inspectors on unannounced inspections of restaurants. KITV followed along as inspector Raena Nishimura checked the conditions at Downtown Coffee, a coffee bar off Fort Street Mall.
"Just looking in the cupboards for any signs of droppings of rodents, roach droppings," Nishimura said.
There were none of those at Downtown Coffee, but an inspector found a live rat under the sink at a Kalihi noodle shop recently.
At another downtown restaurant, an inspector found mold in a soda dispenser, just a few days after a customer complained of finding mold in some lemonade.
The only way to find violations and get dirty restaurants to clean up their act is to inspect them on a regular basis.
"Our supervisor would like to have our establishments inspected twice a year, but that’s impossible," Nishimura said.
It is impossible because budget cuts have left a small number of inspectors to handle thousands of restaurants.
I couldn’t agree more, public health inspections are a culmination of hard work integrating a myriad of different scientific disciplines. As a result, they take time and more resources are needed if we are to take food safety seriously.