A 90.5 WESA analysis of food facility inspection violations data from the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center and the Allegheny County Department of Health reveals the restaurants and stores that committed the most health and safety infractions between Jan. 1, 2012 and July 17, 2018 in Allegheny County.
Topping the list is the now-under-renovation Pittsburgh Athletic Association Restaurant, followed by Las Palmas Mexican grocery store in Oakland and El Campesino Restaurante Mexicano in North Fayette.
The graph below shows the top 10 food facilities by number of violations. You can hover over a restaurant’s bar to see the three most common violations that inspectors found there.
Violations are classified as low-, medium- or high-risk based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A common high-risk violation is holding food at an unsafe temperature. Donna Scharding, who manages the food safety program at the Allegheny County Health Department, said that can enable the growth of Salmonella and E. Coli bacteria. Salmonella can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration, while E. Coli can cause fatal kidney failure, Scharding warned.
Las Palmas grocery store and Thai Hana & Sushi Bar, both located in Oakland, and Bamboo Garden in North Versailles commited the most high-risk violations since 2012. Here’s the top 10 list:
Looking at chain restaurants, the most food safety infractions were at Italian Village Pizza, Bruegger's Bagel Bakery and Subway restaurants across Allegheny County.
A common violation inspectors found at these chains was the absence of a certified food protection manager. Donna Scharding said someone certified in food protection can quickly identify and correct potential food safety violations.
"For example, if it’s food out of temperature, they can determine that the food is out of temperature, get it back under refrigeration in a timely manner, and the problem’s solved,” she continued.
But Scharding said it can be difficult for managers of small restaurants to miss a day of work to get certified.
Here are the top violators, grouped together by chain:
All of the restaurants mentioned in this story were either unavailable or declined to comment.