KSAT Behind the Kitchen Door special report: Restaurant red flags

What red flags to watch for when choosing a restaurant

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator

KSAT's Behind the Kitchen Door recently looked at potential red flags customers should watch out for when they decide to eat at a San Antonio area restaurant.

While any restaurant can have a bad day, be unusually busy or shorthanded, even experts agree, there are signs you might want to avoid certain restaurants.

Behind the Kitchen Door discussed the first red flag with Steve Barscewski, sanitarian services manager at San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

"Certainly they want to look at the overall cleanliness. This is gonna give them a clue as to how things operate," Barscewski said.

TV host Dr. Oz took it a step further. In an online article, Dr. Oz wrote: 

"If a restaurant can't be bothered to keep the toilets and sinks clean, then imagine what their refrigeration and work spaces look like in the kitchen."

Some red flags are obvious, some are not and others are misleading.

If diners see insects or rodents, that's a sign the restaurant isn't taking steps to minimize pests.

Another red flag is food temperature which can lead to food poisoning.

Dr. Oz says the average person loses 50 to 100 strands of hair every day, so cooks without hair nets or hats is a red flag as well.

Viewers call KSAT often to report cooks touching their food with bare hands, but the Texas health code does not require gloves. However, food handlers must take other precautions.

"They either have to do a double hand wash prior to handling what's called a ready-to-eat food," Barscewski said. "Or they have to do a hand wash followed by hand sanitizer, or hand wash and a nail brush."

Papouli's Greek Grill on Highway 151 allowed KSAT to walk through the restaurant, which was spotless.

The owner, Nick Anthony, says his managers receive special training in food safety and have daily checklists. Anthony admits that eliminating potential red flags is an ongoing effort.

"It's day to day. I mean, we have a lot of patrons every day," Anthony said. "We have a lot of touch-points in our restaurants where we have to make sure that we're doing what's right for guests and safety."

For a list of recent stories Mark Austin has done, click here.

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