Food for Thought: How to file a complaint with health department - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/24/10

Food for Thought: How to file a complaint with health department

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We get calls every day at the station from viewers who want us to check out a certain restaurant, but there's not much we can do except give callers the phone number to the Lubbock Health Department. They take the complaints and do the inspections.

So what kind of complaints do you report to inspectors? And which ones are better left for the managers?

We took those questions to the health department's director Bridget Faulkenberry to find out. "We're looking for food safety issues and things that could cause people to become sick," Faulkenberry says.

The restaurants that have zero critical violations then become food for thought top performers. Those with multiple violations end up at the bottom of the list. While most of the weekly inspections are routine, health inspectors do check up on valid customer complaints.

"We look for complaints that are actual violations of the safety of the food - like food at off temperatures, employees not washing their hands, if food falls on the floor and it's picked up and served. Those kinds of things we will go out and investigate."

And if you've ever found hair in your food - you're not alone. Faulkenberry says it's one of the most common complaints. "Frankly, it's not a serious danger to your health - believe it or not - but there is the icky factor."

She says all of the complaints are taken seriously; even the ones that seem a little strange.

"A man bit into his food and a razor sharp piece of metal actually cut his mouth. So, the inspectors responded to that particular establishment and found that a slicer was missing a piece that actually sliced the food, and that matched up with the piece of metal."

Faulkenberry suggests if you do have a valid complaint or the food makes you sick report it as soon as possible.

"We usually don't get the complaints until a day or two after it happened, and so it's sometimes hard for us to see the same situation recreated in that same establishment. So, we still look for knowledge of proper temperatures and that they know what's going on, on a regular basis." Whether it's not the right order - or the food just didn't taste good, we've all had a bad restaurant experience. But it's better to take those issues to the manager.

"We really can't respond to bad service; that is not a food safety issue. We can't respond to the food not tasting right and the customer not getting their money back. We do get complaints that someone was not served the food that they ordered, and that's just not something that we have time to respond to."

If you do have a complaint there are two ways to notify the health department:

You can either call them at 775-2945.

You can file a complaint against a food establishment online through the Lubbock Health Department's website:

http://healthdept.ci.lubbock.tx.us/healthInfoPage.aspx?ID=69

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