City Health Department closes 2 McDonald's

September 20, 2006|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,sun reporter

The restaurants — Two McDonald's restaurants in Baltimore were closed recently after city health inspectors found evidence of rodent, cockroach and fly infestations in areas where food is stored and handled.

The restaurants -- one downtown and the other in South Baltimore -- reopened yesterday after subsequent inspections found the violations had been corrected, said Bernard Bochenek, director of the Health Department's Bureau of Food and Ecology.

The McDonald's at 825 E. Fort Ave. was closed Monday after an inspector reported "light to moderate mice droppings observed in storage areas and in at least one office area."

The other, at 101 E. Baltimore St., was closed Friday after a finding of "heavy fly infestation in [the] handsink in prep, upstairs walk-in [and] french fry area," according to the inspection report. The inspector also noted finding "approximately 30 dead roaches" in the basement.

Messages left for the owners of both restaurants were not returned, and managers declined to comment. Exterminations were done at each restaurant. Each also paid a $100 fee to the Health Department for re-inspection.

The restaurants have less-than-stellar records with the Health Department, according to past inspection reports.

In a report from February 2002 for the Fort Avenue location, an inspector noted, "There were no [mice] seen at the time of my investigation, however, 9 boxes of Butterfinger McFlurry topping were [gnawed] by mice and mice droppings [were] seen in the dry storage areas, including in the kitchen area."

This year, the restaurant received a more favorable review which said, "Facility appears to be well managed at this inspection. Please maintain clean and sanitary condition."

The McDonald's on East Baltimore Street was visited by an inspector last month in response to a complaint that the restaurant and its bathroom were dirty and that there was no toilet tissue. The inspector found all bathrooms well-stocked, but noted a clogged toilet in a women's bathroom on the second floor and flies in the bathroom, dining and prep areas of the restaurant.

Each year, about 300 restaurants are shut down in the city for violations that prompt immediate closures -- lack of water and proper sewage, improper food temperature, improper equipment for hot and cold foods, and vermin, Bochenek said.

Fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's, which does not normally hold food for more than four hours after it is cooked, hold moderate risk facility licenses, which warrant two inspections yearly, Bochenek said. But complaints from the public can warrant additional visits from inspectors.

Any restaurant that receives two critical violations within an 18-month period is referred to the Health Department's hearing officer for an administrative hearing to determine if the violator's license should be revoked.

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