Gross, yes I know. I’m disgusted every time I see one. Because we have pets, our doors are open a lot plus we live along the water so sometimes it does happen that a creepy crawly gets in the house. We use a pest control company so they don’t last long. I know there are some who’ll tell me that I shouldn’t spray in the house and to them I say, “For me, I want no bugs.”
I’ve had a nasty cold and I suspect I got it at the grand opening of Costco where it was really crowded and full of kids. John felt sorry for me so he went out for food and got me something with lots of broth. He got out the bowls and poured in the good bits and brought it to me as I was lying on the sofa, near to death. (slight exaggeration but not much)
With immense effort I sat up and said, “Can you turn up the lights just a bit?” Darned good thing he did because smack dab in the bowl was most of a cockroach. OMG I was sure I was going to barf.
“That’s disgusting! I’m not going to eat that, sorry. I know you went to a lot of effort,” I said.
“He’s dead, he won’t eat much,” John laughed.
The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I can keep roaches out of my food, so why couldn’t the restaurant? Surely they’d be more diligent than I would be when their sanitation/cleanliness is critical to their livelihood. It seemed not in this case. Maybe it was a one-off but will I ever get over it and want to eat there again? Doubt it.
I got up this morning still thinking about it. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to know how pest control in restaurants worked. I have a friend who owns a restaurant in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane so I called him and asked how he stayed bug free. I’ve been in his kitchen and it’s as clean as mine and I know it’s not an accident that he’s bug-free.
It was lovely to catch up with him. I wasn’t expecting a Bugs in Restaurants 101 university course but that’s what I got. Condensed, here’s what he had to say.
A clean restaurant, especially in the kitchen, where there aren’t lots of crumbs or food scraps lying around is going to be more hygienic. It’s not difficult to wash surfaces down with an anti-bacterial solution before preparing food and it’s not difficult to do it again when you finish prepping. Bacteria will have a much more difficult time growing in a clean environment.
Store Foods Properly
At the end of every shift, the chef should make the decision on what food gets saved for the next door and which gets tossed. Saved food should be kept in well labelled, air-tight containers and placed in the walk-in or freezer. Food to be disposed should be bagged and placed outside in the dumpster, NOT left inside where it could attract roaches, rodents or other bugs. No food should ever be left lying out in the air uncovered.
Have a Hand Washing Rule
As a restaurant manager or owner, you’re able to set the rules on how your staff behave and hand washing is my friend’s passion. The first thing he teaches a new employee is how to properly wash his/her hands. “It’s never been a problem for me because everyone washes his hands upon entering the kitchen. “Call me fussy but that’s just how I operate. If you leave the kitchen whether it’s to go outside for a smoke or go to the loo or even head to the dining room, when you get back to the kitchen, you wash your hands. My staff do it now without thinking.” They’ve never had an incident where anyone got sick from eating there.
Stay Pest Free
Here’s where my friend got serious. If you get inspected and they find a bug infestation, your restaurant could be shut down until it’s in compliance with the regulations. That is expensive both in lost income and lost reputation. Nobody wants to visit your restaurant and see a sign that says closed for bug spraying. “Maureen, I use Trusted Pest Management here in Brisbane and if you could give them a plug, it would mean a lot to me.” Done! It seems that pest control just isn’t an issue for his restaurant as he’s on a plan where the pest control people visit regularly and are quick to return if anyone sees anything crawling around. There’s no way to keep them out forever but it’s not difficult problem to correct. I felt pretty righteous about saying I wasn’t going to eat where John got the food last night.
Now you’re wondering who my friend is, I know but when I asked if I could use his name and restaurant in the post he said, “For a bug post?? Are you nuts? Write me up another time, okay?” Fair enough. 🙂
Have you ever seen roaches or other bugs in restaurants? Did you ever go back? How do you sort bugs at your house?
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day! First of all Maureen, most importantly, I hope you feel better soon!
Nothing like a bug or worse to turn your stomach from food!
Having worked in exclusive food places, I can tell you that any restaurant that says they have not experience any kind of bug, ant or worse problem is probably either the world’s luckiest restaurant (despite hygiene and cleanliness etc) as it is simple a fact of life…
Would I pay to have a cockroach in my soup? Probably not, but then again, in some countries they are a delicacy! All a matter of perspective…
Hugs from afar…Cheers! Joanne
I do know it’s all in perspective but from MY perspective, cockroaches will never be on my menu. Call me fussy. 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Oh my goodness that would be horrifying to have “most” of a cockroach in your soup! I’ve never come across anything in my food (or if I have I can’t remember and trust me, it would be something I would remember). But I have seen a cockroach crawling across a restaurant wall once!
oh men, Maureen, you are brave. Here, up in Northern Europe, we are living in ugly-bug-free environment. Back in the USA, especially in those hot and humid states…brrr…
Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens says
I’m so sorry you were under the weather … and on top of it had to experience the whole partial cockroach incident (egads!) … but it sure did prompt some interesting research into an important part of food safety. I enjoyed reading your friend’s thoughts on running a healthy restaurant environment … far beyond bugs, the simple issues of handwashing and cleanliness are so important in safe food handling!
Emma @ Bake Then Eat says
Hope you get well soon 😀 I’m like you if I found a bug in my food at a restaurant or a take out I would never return, I don’t have bugs in my food at home and if I am paying a premium price for food I wouldn’t expect any their either! I don’t really suffer from bugs at home too much, after all I live in Scotland in the UK and it’s almost always cold here…lol we have a few spiders which I scream and run away from like a little girl and Michael has to come and rescue me from them 😀
Nothing wrong with a little more protein in your soup Maureen 🙂
Yuk, yuk, yuk is all I can say to that – were there no lights on the the restaurant when they dished up the takeaway for John? I wouldn’t go back either. Hope you’re feeling better soon x
John@Kitchen Riffs says
We never had a problem with roaches in the house in Florida (good thing, because you know how big they can get!), but we did in the Northeast. And we had some other bugs in Florida. I used to use a perimeter spray, and that worked well (it’s bug spray that comes in 1 gallon jugs, and you spray the outside perimeter of your house). Since we’ve moved to St. Louis, we’ve had little problem, thank goodness — things like spiders mainly, which don’t hang out in the kitchen. Good article — we all need to be more aware about sanitation.
Tricia @saving room for dessert says
So sorry you’ve been sick Maureen. Hope you feel better soon! I wouldn’t eat that soup and never go near that restaurant again. Yuck!!!!
Maureen, what a great post! We go about our blogs sharing recipes and experiences, but rarely does one see a topic like this—an extremely important one. Your restaurateur friend’s crash course was spot on. Though it wasn’t funny at the time, John’s quick wit did bring a chuckle. May these days find you feeling better.
My God!! Ewwwwwww!!!
Roaches are a big problem once there is infestation. The restaurant probably has an infestation, and if it got onto bowl of packed food – unseen- then there IS a problem. You should call them, and sound them off, really.
Hope you feel pink and peachy soon Maureen.
So sorry you’ve been sick Maureen, I sure hope you feel better quickly!! I can’t believe you found bugs in your food, good thing you had the lights on. I would have died if I had eaten a bite or two and then say the roach 🙁 I would have called the owner and complained but I still would not go back.
UGGGGGH! I don’t blame you for getting mad Maureen, that’s horrifying!
I’ve never encountered a bug in a restaurant myself, but I will admit that one of my favorite movie scenes is the one in Victor Victoria when Julie Andrews sneaks a cockroach onto her plate to avoid paying for dinner. I’m glad I’ve never had to experience that in real life though!
Restaurant hygiene and cleanliness routine are important. I’ve never found insects in any restaurant I’ve been to nor have I seen bugs. Though that’s not the case with my SIL and nephew. They may just be a lot more observant. 🙂
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
Yuk! That’s just what you need when you’re feeling sick! We tried to go to Costco but it was so busy we turned around. Now I’m glad!
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Ugh…. I agree, I would not have eaten it either, Maureen… and thank goodness you turned up the lights! Did you report the place?
Now, how are you getting along? Is this cold gone, or persisting?! I hate going to over crowded places now, even the gym. Seems every time we do, I come down with something. Gah!
Take care xox
Glamorous Glutton says
OMG no! That’s hideous , I would have barfed. There is no excuse for insects in your food. I’d never be able to go there again. Thanks for the tips, useful to everyone, professional or not. GG
1. Get well soon.
2. I do all of the ideas you shared above. In addition I use a lot of vinegar and bleach in cleaning everything in my kitchen from floors to utensils.
In addition my condo association sprays outside for bugs at least twice a year. In addition to that I spray the perimeter of my condo on the inside at least twice a year too.
Prevention is the best defense against bugs.
InTolerant Chef says
Getting a bug in your food is certainly a gross experience indeed Maureen. A polite phone call to the establishment wouldn’t go amiss, and if they have any sense of customer service they should offer to replace or comp that meal. That said, to most of the above comments who are freaking out about it-
Seriously guys? One cockroach does not mean the entire restaurant is infested!
A lot of times bugs and roaches come in with or on the fresh produce. These boxes have come from the farm, to the market, to the wholesaler, to the delivery truck, then sometimes left sitting outside the kitchen door with an early drop off, before they even set foot inside the restaurant.
Yes, every good restaurant should always have pest systems in place, but they will still occasionally not be 100% effective.
True enough. I’m not sure this restaurant is one of those good restaurants. I did make a call to let them know and they told me I could get a discount on my next order. Uhh, never mind.
InTolerant Chef says
Oops, forgot to say I hope you feel better soon 🙂
Vicki Bensinger says
My husband and I were out to dinner one evening and a roach walked across my plate. I nearly died but kept my composure. When I told the waitress she offered to give me a free glass of wine. I said no thank you and asked for the check. We never went back and it use to be our favorite place.
The worst though was when we went to a restaurant in the Lake of the Ozarks a resort area a few hours from us. I was starving and this was before we had kids, so 28 years ago. We stopped at a restaurant and in those days my husband and I loved fried chicken. We both ordered some and when I took a bite I got a mouthful of what looked like pubic hair. I ran out gagging. To this day I can’t discuss this around any type of food or I start gagging. It was the most horrendous thing that ever happened to me. I would have welcomed a roach to walk across my plate vs. the hair any day! Honestly I could vomit just thinking about it right now.
Pube?? Pass the roach!
Whereas I recently went to an amazing restaurant here in Toronto where I squealed excitedly and then immediately ordered the dish that proclaimed “crickets and mealworms” as components.
(Crickets = tasty/like popcorn. Mealworms = bit too earthy for my liking.)
You are my hero woman 🙂
oh my goodness that terrible! I know there are places in the world where you can buy bugs, spiders, cockroaches or grasshoppers on sticks cooked over coals and basted with sauces etc but unless I have actually ordered them I can only imagine how upset I would be if I found one “swimming” in my soup! Get well soon! xx
I know people eat bugs but not this people. 🙂
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Ugh, I would absolutely die, there’s nothing I hate more on the planet! I’m fastidious about cleanliness in the kitchen and wary about eating out at unclean places…
Sorry that you are not feeling well Maureen…I remember one restaurant when we saw roaches crawling the wall, I almost jump…could not finish my meal and I will never go back again…so I cannot imagine what I would do if I found one on my plate…
I hope you feel better soon…
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
Cockroach!!!! I haven’t heard this word for a long time… it’s pretty common to hear in Japan but living in California I haven’t seen one, maybe I did, but that’s really rare…. Wonder if humidity is related. I’d definitely freak out and if I had eaten some already before I found out… I don’t know I’d feel sick… xD As I get older, I sometimes worry about restaurants where they don’t seem to have a good clean standard…and if it’s me I’d leave, but sometimes when we’re out with others… I just have to try to ignore it… ahhh…
Lisa the Gourmet Wog says
I can tolerate little flying things and the occasional hair but cockroaches, omg I definitely would have barfed! You poor thing!
Helene D'Souza says
roaches…. my biggest enemies!
When you live in a colder climate you never have issues with insects and creatures in the house but the moment it gets warm and humid they feel that a human house is the best place to live for them. We keep a load full of kaempferball in houses and restaurant kitchens, we spray, we smoke the places with coconut shells and incense mixtures, we wash and we keep our house spotless clean (although it only takes a day to get it dirty again due to the environment and weather conditions) and we even have enough wild lizards lingering on the walls who eat all kind of insects but still we all end up hunting down a flying cockroach every single day. I have a hygiene tick, that means I wash my hands very frequently too. Sometimes one can try his/her best but insects will always find a way to mess up our food.
Get better soon!
Hotly Spiced says
A few months ago my uni students ordered takeaway from a local Thai restaurant. They found a bug in one of the stir-fries. A few days later I took the container back with the complimentary bug and you wouldn’t believe the levels of denial. All of a sudden they couldn’t even speak English. It was an absolute disgrace. We don’t go there anymore. I’m so sorry you haven’t been well and that on top of that, you’ve had to cope with bugs in your food! Disgusting! xx
Amy @ Elephant Eats says
oh my god, that is like my worst fear come to life! I hate bugs SO MUCH!!! Hope you’re feeling better…
Ugga Mugga!! I would freaK out! I have to say I’ve never seen roaches in a restaurant, unless I did and I just blocked it out. I did however get one in my Mushroom Soup once time in Ireland, or it was some sort of bug anyway. It was the worst thing ever. I was pregnant or I would have downed a pitcher of Guinness to drowned my sorrows. Lots of great tips in this post!!
Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says
Oh goodness, this post has me in fear! That’s one scary thing. I sure hope you are feeling better today! <3
Serena |Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch says
I hope you feel better soon my sweet friend! There is no way I could eat that either.. Just the thought made me gag along with the thought of hair in my food.. Disgusting!
Abbe@This is How I Cook says
Bugs? Can’t tolerate this! I did enjoy Balmain bugs once in Australia! They were very good!
Oh, my, even if it was the first and only time a roach got into one of their dishes, I would never, every go back! And I had to stop reading the comments after Vicki told her story. Yikes. Hope you’re on the mend, my friend.
Krissie - Pearls of Style says
Oh my goodness Maureen, that’s just awful. I would horrified to find a cockroach in my food! And I’m sure it didn’t help your state. I’m fastidious about storing food and hygiene. Hope you’re now on the mend.
Krissie x – http://pearlsofstyle.blogspot.com.au
Hi Maureen, boy sounds like that was the last thing in the world you needed, how horrible. I would think that’s not customary but who knows.
Gourmet Getaways says
Maureen, when I read your title I thought this was gonna be an exotic (buggy) dish, lol. Seriously, I hate roaches, too oh boy! Your buddy gave the best tips, actually :).
Carol at Wild Goose Tea says
I think—Barf sums up the whole thing. In fact double barf!
Amanda (@lambsearshoney) says
I hope you are on the mend now Maureen, even though a nasty shock like that could have caused a relapse. There’s no way I could eat anything after finding that in my dinner!
I WISH I were over the flu, Amanda. Now I know how people can die from this stuff. I will never bypass the flu jab again!
Eva Taylor says
Gross. Gross. Gross. And no, I wouldn’t eat from there either. Roaches are the most disgusting! About 25 years ago our work group went to an Indian restaurant and one if the girls found a roach deep fried in her food! I threw up when we got back to the office and was terrified that us see a roach in my vomit! I didn’t thank god!
Several years ago one of our major newspapers did an expose on how poorly the city was monitoring sanitary conditions of restaurants; they found city workers hadn’t done inspections in years! There were places in Chinatown with rats and rat poo in the kitchen! Cockroaches were common! The city has since cleaned up that department and inspections are done every six months or so. Plus now with all the social media and instant commentary, it’s suicide if they are un cleanly.
Hope you feel better, I think I might be coming down with something too.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
I haven’t but if it happened to me, I probably would have screamed and jumped out of my seat never to return.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Sorry, thinking about the bug I forgot to say that I hope you are feeling much better.
Judit + Corina @Wine Dine daily says
We sincerely hope that you are feeling much better Maureen! Oh my, how discusting bugs in food specially whe you do not have the chance to quickly whip up something else. Here in Califronia we have our fair share too, but more like little cripy – crawly ants invation in baking many goods.
Oh MY! I would have had a fit if I saw a roach in my soup. Ewwwwww! Now that’s just gross. Obviously their restaurant must be full of them for them not to notice when plating up your soup. Eeek! I hope you are feeling better. I seemed to have gotten a few extra colds this year as well… they are just horrible.
Oh Maureen I hope you are on the mend by the time you read my note. Poor, poor dear…I’m sure your little soup surprise didn’t help much. That’s one thing about summer…then damn bugs…they’re everywhere you look. Personally, we don’t believe in pest controls either…mostly because we fear they will make Inky sick 🙁
A clean environment is one thing. Another is white distilled vinegar. It naturally cleans everything 😀 …aaaand do I sense a restaurant review in the future?? Perhaps when you are all better 🙂
Take care dear. Give lots of hugs to Charlie for me.
Shashi @ RunninSrilankan says
When I was in 6th grade, our school cafeteria served the best vegetarian samosas – they were incredibly good – so good that when I found a bug in one, one day – my 6th grade self decided to eat around it!!! Yes, I know – that’s totally gross – but I was 11! Now, I most definitely won’t go back to a restaurant with a bug problem – your friend has some great tips – seems like they could apply to a home as well!
Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) says
Yep, gross! I wouldn’t return to that restaurant.
My Mum used to work as a restaurant manager and she shared many a horrid tale over the years.
As for bugs in my food at home, if it’s a midgie or ant I will scoop it out of my food and carry on but anything other than that and the food is insta-binned.
Once I open a packet of something from my pantry it will be stored in an airtight container/bag. Nothing is left open, ever. I started doing that after an ant invasion. I clean up any crumbs promptly and don’t ever leave food out. If I see a cockroach I put baits out.
Right now our house has a major spider infestation which is a new one for me! No idea how to fix that.
I bought some Chinese takeout one time and when I got it home and opened it up a roach crawled out. Freaked me out! Tossed the meal, called the restaurant and told them, but never could bring myself to go back.
Kitchen Belleicious says
oh my gosh! I can’t believe that. That has happened to my husband at a restuarnt before and it ruined us going to it every again! I agree though- if we can keep bugs out they should be able to!
That would totally gross me out. It reminds of when I was sick a couple years ago, and Larry stopped on his way home from work to pick up some chicken from one of our [formerly] favorite local places. The meal came with buttermilk biscuits and they were moldy! I could not eat any of it, and when I called to complain, all they said was that we could come back for another order of biscuits. We have never gone back, nor will we ever.
Hope you are feeling better!
Amy (Savory Moments) says
I’ve never seen a bug in my food at a restaurant, but during s summer as a bartender, I saw my fair share of roaches and other bugs all over the kitchen of this restaurant where I was working! It was so gross and I never ate their (they are also closed now).
Oh that’s bad! The odd hair is nasty enough, especially in a restaurant. I did see a live green grub crawling in the garden side salad at an Italian restaurant once (I strongly suspect he grows a lot of his own produce) and that was off putting, but a cockroach! I would be screaming blue murder, I feel for your roachy moment 😀
I’ve never dealt with bugs like I have here in Oz. I’ve had to adopt an entirely different way of storing food and dealing with leftovers, especially during summer.
Your story was quite fun, though I am sure it was disgusting for you to see that bug in food. Where I live don’t really have bugs problems, only some butterflies if I am not careful with my cereal storing.
Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine says
That would have been the end of that restaurant for me too. Yikes!
Bugs in food is all relative and growing up in Malaysia, I would have unknowingly eaten my fair share of bugs in street hawker food there as standards are no where near to what we have in Australia. Therefore, I believe my immune system is a lot better than my friends in Australia and unlike them, I am able to hit the streets for hawker food without experiencing tummy problems.
Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania says
Eeeks…a cockroach! Good that the lights were on. This is really not done, how can a restaurant be so dirty? Why don’t they do pest control? Helpful tips…really loved this post!
Katherines Corner says
ewww and great tips oh and ewww again giggle. Hugs
wok with ray says
Bugs especially in the food is really disgusting. Now bugs in a restaurant is inexcusable because cleanliness tells all about that restaurant. I love this post, Maureen. Have a good week ahead. 🙂
That is absolutely REVOLTING and I totally feel for you Maureen! I hate hate hate bugs too we had an slight issue with ants before and I spent so much time and effort to get rid of them! I think the tips you shared are great and I really hope restaurants will read this and be more diligent!
I can only think of one thing to say – eeeeeewwwww! (sorry 🙂 )
Fiona @TIFFIN bite sized food adventures says
Good grief Maureen! It’s a good job you did turn the light up. I’m really happy to see that Brisbane City Council has started naming and shaming those that they now give fines out to for poor health and hygeine practices. No surprises that Mc D in Queen St was the top offender in a recent list. No good on the Sunshine Coast but it’s a start. Thanks for the interesting read!
Here’s the link: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queen-street-mcdonalds-fined-most-in-brisbanes-foodhall-of-shame-20140509-zr7wm.html