Feb 14, 2012 7:40 PM by David Ortiviz

Restaurant inspections raise awareness of food safety

Before you make plans to dine out, you may want to check the health inspections for your favorite restaurants in Pueblo.

"Dead roaches." "Excessive rodent droppings." "Slime mold accumulation." Those are some of the critical violations found at some restaurants in Pueblo, according to the Pueblo City-County Health Department. Some restaurants had no violations.

Last week the health department made those inspections available online. There's no rating system, so we can't tell you which restaurants scored the worst or the best--but we can point out some of the common or critical violations.

According to one survey Americans dine out about 5 times a week. We assume the food is safe. "I feel pretty safe," said Anjoli, a restaurant diner. "I'm usually not concerned," said Angel, another diner. However some restaurant inspections may turn your stomach.

We showed some violations to restaurant diners on Pueblo's north side Tuesday afternoon.

Reporter: "Slime mold in the soda gun holsters." Woman: "Oh dear."

Reporter: "A cockroach problem." Woman: "Mmm hmm."

Reporter: "Excessive rodent droppings. Woman: "Oh dear" Reporter: "Including on contact surfaces." Woman: "Oh dear, oh dear."

"Oh my goodness" said Anjoli.

"That's a bummer," said Angel.

The health department points out most violations are quickly corrected."I would say 95% of those violations are corrected on the day that we're out there doing the inspection," said Vicki Carlton, program manager at the Pueblo City-County Health Department.

Health workers inspect more 900 food establishments in Pueblo County at least once a year.

Food safety is the top priority, but overall cleanliness is another big concern. Health experts say roaches and mice are carriers of salmonella, which can make you sick. "If we go in and find rodent droppings on food surfaces or cockroaches running across surfaces that facilities is going to be closed," said Carlton. We asked: Has that happened? "Yes," replied Carlton.

Some are making the argument restaurants are cleaner than your own kitchen. "Just remember, most home kitchens would fail a health inspection," said Adrienne Centner, a News 5 fan on Facebook.

"I think that could be very true," said Carlton. Under state regulations, restaurants are required to follow strict guidelines to prevent rodents and sanitize surfaces. "Restaurants are required to clean and sanitize their surfaces most home kitchens probably don't know what sanitizing is," said Carlton.

Some are thinking twice about dining out. "It makes you hesitate it sure does," said Sherrie, a restaurant diner. However Carlton says people shouldn't over-react to a few bad violations. "I think it's very safe to go out and eat at restaurants in Pueblo," said Carlton.

Online restaurant inspections:

Pueblo County

El Paso County


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