All the time that The Muskegon Chronicle‘s Brian McVicar has been spending with his county health department’s inspection records has paid off with a slew of stories, with the most recent turning the spotlight on the thousands of food code violations area businesses have racked up in recent years.
For this particular story, McVicar crunched the numbers on 22,000 violations, 37 percent of them critical, logged over a four-year period. Among the most salient, he writes, were “Raw chicken and crabmeat sitting out at room temperature, food kept past its expiration date, cockroaches, mice and fruit flies living in kitchens, employees not following proper hand washing procedures.”
In addition to the typical rogue restaurants, McVicar found that a wide range of local businesses were guilty of health code violations, including “Schools, hospitals, and food stands found in places such as Michigan’s Adventure Amusement Park.”
With his broad-based, data-oriented methodology, McVicar provides a model for other local reporters looking to move beyond the typical “cherrypick the cockroach horror stories” approach that is so often found in inspection-record stories.
Stories in the series:
- Food code violations rampant; food poisoning outbreaks rare
- Management is key to cleaning up food code violations
- Handwashing, temperature storage key to keeping foods safe
- Are some restaurants allowed to get too many health violations?
- Day in the life of a Muskegon County health inspector
- Food poisoning outbreaks rare, but serious
- Some states grade restaurants based on health inspections
- Food code violations: Public health risk or over-burdensome government regulation?