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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Health inspectors in North Carolina will soon have a new menu to grade restaurant cleanliness.

Lawmakers recently approved an overhaul of the 35-year-old guidelines, but some of the changes have many business owners upset.

Sanitation scores are prominently displayed in every restaurant, but with new changes taking place in September owners fear they could effect the bottom line.

Orlando Martinez is the manager of I Love New York Pizza in downtown Wilmington.

“Everybody can see we are clean in here,” he said.

But he has had problems with the way his restaurant has been graded in the past.

“I think it’s not fair what they did to us,” Martinez said. “Last year we got 101, and this year we got a 99.5.”

Those grades could once again change under the new sanitation rules.

Under the new rules, beef can now be ordered rare. A food protection manager must be on site at all times. Passing a food safety class can no longer boost sanitation ratings. Kitchen workers must wear gloves.

Some restaurant managers and owners, who did not want to go on camera, told us some of these changes could add significant costs and inconvenience.

“I work in the oven,” Martinez said. “All I do is make pizza. I don’t touch money. I don’t do nothing like that all I do is make pizza. It’s 500 degrees in that oven. How am I supposed to wear gloves!”

Martinez says the new rules are invasive. He says it’s a case of too many chefs spoiling the soup.

“They come and inspect our stuff,” he said, “but we know what we’re doing we’re doing.”

The new guidelines are based on federal standards. They go into effect in North Carolina September 1.

Of course, we’ll keep you posted on the high and low performers in Kitchen Cops.

Comment on this Story

  • BeBeP

    Gloves are NOT required for every duty in the kitchen – the new specs are very different and open to interpretation by the health inspectors as they always have been. Gloves ONLY need to be worn when touching raw, uncooked food which will come into contact with someone’s mouth. Gloves MUST also be changed when changing tasks; they are NOT worn constantly. I really hope the health department will take the effort to do some real education for the public so that misrepresentations and misunderstandings can be cleared up. There’s not really a great deal of cost involved – the health codes are simply returning to a method of ensuring sanitation that was in force many years ago.

  • Stormie Durham brooks

    I think this will
    Cause costs to increase. However I agree with all this. That is if the workers don’t run and get equipped when they see someone coming in to inspect. They all should wear hair mets not just caps.

  • GuestUSMC

    Sanitation grades should also be posted on all the entrances.

  • I’mnotyourchef

    I walked out of a local bistro the other day. I watched the owner slip a ben to the inspector. We cleaned the flytraps about 3 times a day in the kitchen…it was a disgusting little hole.

  • taxpayer

    on an annual basis. However, the inspections do occur less frequently than quarterly…which used to be the case. Money…money…money…no money to hire inspectors.

  • Guest1966

    The problem with the inspections were stated plainly in the article. ONCE A YEAR INSPECTIONS! Use to be every 90 days or so, that’s what they need to bring back. Just because someone use to do something right, doesn’t mean they will continue to do right!

  • SurfCityTom

    his food sanitation score fell by 1.5 and he cries.

    He works in the oven all day; why should he wear gloves? He also handles every item which goes into creating pizza. And ultimately, those items go in the consumer’s mouth and stomach.

    Stop in any Subway. The employees put on fresh disposable gloves each time they prepare sandwiches. They only get $3 to $6 per sandwich.

    Those rubber gloves can be bought by the gross and are not that expensive.

    A food protection manager must be on site. So they designate the owner or manager as such.

    “Everybody can see we are clean in here” — right. The same can not be said for all.


    Wearing gloves has always been a standard. When the rules are not enforced then laws are passed. Food safety is very important!

  • Guest461

    C’mon Martinez, we aren’t that stupid! You use paddles to transport the pizzas in and out of the 500 degree oven, otherwise you wouldn’t even have any hands. It’s your MAKING of the pizzas when your sanitation practice is important. We don’t want you slinging the pepperoni after you scratch your facial hair, we don’t want you spreading the mozzerella after you rub your nose and the pickled peppers will do just fine without sneeze moisture.
    Your food contents need to stay fresh and cool, your ice machine should be free of mold and mildew and you should do something about those pesky flies in your kitchen! If we allow those like you that feel the sanitation rules are “invasive”, we’re likely to get sick as a dog due to your disdain for basic rules of sanitary practice. I’ve worked first hand in the restaurant business, I know what goes on in the kitchens of the best, much less what’s going on in yours!

  • ChefnSurf

    Professional cooks regularly put their hands in ovens and broilers with temps in excess of 500 degrees. If you had been in one of those kitchens,you would have found zero handless cooks. As long as hands are clean and dry you’re OK. Moisture-filled, slippery, thin gloves could be a problem.

    Gloves or no gloves, touching the wrong thing creates an unsanitary condition. It would make more sense for servers to wear gloves. They handle both food and money.

    Sneezing on the food? You think that’s normal behaviour? Really? What does that have to do with gloves anyway?

    Restaurants with scores in the high 90’s to 100’s (like this one) do not have a disdain for basic sanitary practice. If they did, their scores would be lower. Restaurants are in business to make a profit. If customers get food poisoning they don’t come back. No customers equals no profit.

    That thing you called a “paddle” is actually called a “piel”.

    You may have worked in a restaurant but you were never a professional cook. Your lack of basic kitchen knowledge is obvious. Based on that I would have to guess that you probably do not know what goes on in the kitchens of the best. In those types of formal kitchens, non-cooking personnel are never allowed in the cooking area or what food pros call “behind the line”. They are restricted exclusively to the food pick up area.

  • AlexsMommy01132011

    Lay off, this guy’s restaurant is awesome!!!!

  • carla

    hey 461 u are oh so true yrs. ago i was hired over the phone for a dishwasher in the clubhouse in LANDFALL i walked in there and there was not a clean POT, PAN to B found there was dirty ones hanging, and the SINKS had DIRTY WATER IN THEM, so i had to clean the sinks befor i could even start washin anything as i started washin all these tools THE CHEFS WERE RUNNIN AROUND EATIN OFF EACH OTHERS SPECIALTIES COOKS ANY WAY I WASHED TOOLS FOR BOUT 45 MIN STAIGHT AND WAS STILLONLY HALF FINISHED, I SAID U KNOW IF THESE HIGH CLASS PEOPLE THAT LIVE HERE AND THINK THEY ARE GETTIN THE BEST OF EVERY THING COULD WALK BACK HERE THEY WOULD PROBABLY B VERY DISAPPOINTED OR REALLY JUST PISSED OFF anyway i took me abreak after about half done and i just left they called me and wanted me to come back to work or BRING THEIR LANDFALL CAP BACK HA! HA! I DID AND AND NEVER WENT BACK THE RICHEST IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST SANITARY.

  • ChefnSurf

    I’m a strong advocate of food safety. Food professionals should be. I’m a strong advocate for professional training and testing in the area of food safety. Having said that, except in some specific situations, I am not an advocate for full-time glove use. Even companies like ServSafe that provide training on safe food handling don’t really advocate that. Go to the ServSafe website and look at the pics of cooks and food. No gloves.

    Except in certain situations, gloves are merely a placebo. If you’re wearing gloves full-time they’ll wind up just as contaminated as a bare hand would. Sure, you could keep on changing them every few minutes, but that’s not really going to happen. Recently in a supermarket I came across a woman giving out free food samples. She was wearing gloves. I noticed that she had also been talking on her cell phone while wearing the gloves. I doubt the gloves sanitized any viruses or bacteria that had transferred from her mouth and ear, to the cellphone, to her gloves. (I passed on the free sample, by the way.)

    The key to safe food handling is simply to handle it safely. Wash hands regularly as needed. Avoid cross contaminations. Inhibit bacteriological growth by paying attention to the temperatures that proteins are exposed to and for how long that happens. That kind of stuff.

    The general public may feel safer seeing cooks wearing gloves, but for the most part that’s just the placebo effect kicking in.

  • Guest2020

    I’m not a professional chef or expert, but what you say makes since. If anything, the gloves would provide less sanitary conditions than the bare hands would because the bare hands would at least get washed with some regularity.

  • Guest461

    …I never stated I was a professional cook and I didn’t work in a pizza shop. My kitchen time while in college exposed many things that un-nerve me to this day due to the techniques and unsanitary methods I witnessed. I also spent time performing maintenance on restaurant equipment (ovens, freezers, meat cutting equipment, ice-makers, etc.) and HVAC systems. There’s yet another story in itself that describe some of the despicable, unsanitary conditions that consumers are unwaringly exposed to.
    Sorry to pop your bubble Mr. Pro, but nobody other than a crazed crackhead reaches deep into a 500 degree pizza oven with bare hands! 140 F is the human threshold for pain and will cause one to “let go” rather quickly.

  • ChefnSurf

    … and stop pretending you know what you’re talking about. You just don’t.

    That 140 degree thing ……… You read it in a book ?

  • guesty

    When you see some of the fast food workers wearing gloves change from food preparation to cashier and then back to food prep all with the same gloves on shows they are only used to keep their hands clean.

  • KC

    Chef – C’mon, he’s obviously right. I’m having to type this with a chopstick held between my teeth because I placed a dish in a 350 degree oven just the other day and both of my hands evaporated.) Please don’t belabor the point with logic and concepts of thermodynamics as we all know that a 500 degree oven is so efficient that it will cook your hands instantly, just like it does that pizza. (Of course, I’m assuming that your definition of “instantly” – like mine – is approximately 20 minutes.)

    Gloves are great for many tasks in the kitchen, just as they’re good for many tasks under the hood of the car. However, in both cases, they’re more efficient at keeping your hands clean than anything else. If anything, in my observation, people who use gloves on a regular basis tend to be less sanitary as they tend to touch everything with their gloved hands, when they’d be inclined to wash regularly without gloves.

  • AM

    If wearing gloves during food preparation were a serious health concern, most of us would be terribly ill on a consistent basis. Wearing gloves hasnt been an issue up until now? All of a sudden everyone is getting sick? Our parents’ health must have been in danger for their entire lives. I don’t see and “professional chefs” on television or in culinary classes wearing gloves. You don’t see chefs on “top chef” wearing latex while preparing extravagant dishes. Let’s get real. Stop living in a bubble, go out to eat and enjoy yourself or just cook for yourself at home and break a number of health codes we follow in the industry everyday.
    I mean, none of you wear gloves while making your kids’ macaroni and cheese now do you?

  • emily

    With gloves on you can still touch trash cans, phones, etc. The only thing gloves can protect you form that bare hands can’t are cuts on your hands.


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