ATLANTA -- 11Alive has the worst health inspection scores of the past year. Our Center for Investigative Action examined all health inspection
scores in metro Atlanta from 2013 to come up with a list of the 50
restaurants that had the lowest scores. Is your favorite restaurant on the list?
First of all, a low score doesn't mean you're going to get sick, but it does mean that there are potential health risks. If a restaurant gets a U, or unsatisfactory, anything under a score of 70, it means it failed to meet standards to get a satisfactory report and it gets re-visited within 10 days.
There were 559 U's in 2013. We examined nearly 20 thousand health inspection scores from 2013, from Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton Counties. We compiled a list of the 50 lowest individual inspection scores. We took a look at the worst 5.
CHECK THE SCORES | Is your favorite restaurant on the list?
Keeping things hot. Keeping things cold. And keeping things clean. These are critical for food safety.
Karen Gulley, the manager of Environmental Health with Cobb County emphasized the point.
"A lot of people eat out and so there's potential there for the spread of food borne illness and that's our job to keep that down to a minimum," she said.
And the 5 lowest scores in Metro Atlanta last year?
El Polo Loko on Pleasant Hill Road, in Lilburn, with 38 out of 100. That's a U. Among the violations, an employee using bare hands to plate food, raw beef stored above cooked chicken, and an employee's first aid kit was stored on condensed milk.
That's why went back to see for ourselves, but this time, gloves were on and they had a score of 82B. The owner didn't want to talk on camera but said they got the low score when they first opened and have learned a lot since then.
Thai Red Garlic in Lawrenceville, on Pleasant Hill Road, had a 38 U last year with violations like an employee drying hands with an unclean cloth, an employee preparing raw beef above cooked rice, foods not cooled properly, and the most current inspection report not posted.
And when we visited the restaurant, we looked for, but could not find a posted health inspection report, which is supposed to be visible to the public, even though the restaurant's score at the time of our visit was an 89B. An unnamed employee blamed last year's low score on a broken fridge.
Gyro Teriyaki in Atlanta, on Roswell Road. It had a 37 U last year, for things like food stored on the floor and an employee washing hands with no soap, and when we visited we also observed potential problems on our own, like the man we saw eating in behind the sushi bar. We showed the image Karen Gulley for an expert opinion.
"Okay you really aren't supposed to eat in the prep areas and food service areas."
She says it would be a violation. We also noticed that the back door to the kitchen was wide open and according to the unsatisfactory report from 2013, openings to the kitchen are a problem, as they were written up to have the back door repaired because 'of a lot of openings'.
"You don't want insects and rodents to be able to come in; you want to guard against them, as best as you can," Gulley pointed out.
Gyro Teriyaki now has score of 87B but an employee declined to talk to us or give our business card to the manager.
Peter Cheng in Atlanta, on Powers Ferry Road, with a low score of 30 U last year.
"The score, like I say, brings us a lot of attention, so we fix our problems and we are going to follow all these rules very strictly and we are trying our best to do this," said manager, Yan Wu.
There had been problems in the kitchen, like an employee rubbing his nose and proceeding to the cook line, they'd been written up for heavy debris on clean dishes, and no paper towels and no soap in the hand sink. And when we visited, there was no soap in the men's room either.
"Poor personal hygiene, that's one of the risk factors," Gulley noted.
And Peter Cheng's current score wasn't posted either, even though it was an 82B at the time we were there.
"Maybe by accident somebody hit that and it dropped on the ground," Wu told us.
But they want you to know this.
"I just want to say our food is good and our food is safe."
And Number 1 on the list nobody wants to make, the lowest score in Metro Atlanta in 2013...
Wok Rock in Duluth at 28 U. One of the violations included 'uncooked rice that had a live fly in it.' It even had its permit suspended for lack of hot water. And when we visited they had posted an old health inspection score of 100A from last August, even though as of January 24th, of this year, they'd had 4 inspections since.
"That's against the law; they are supposed to have the most recent inspection posted," Gulley said.
No one at Wok Rock called us back to talk about it.
Safety is the priority. All of Georgia Health Departments follow the FDA food code. Only one county in Metro Atlanta did not make the list of lowest individual health inspection scores for last year - Cobb County.
If you want to see the complete list of restaurants with the lowest scores, in Metro Atlanta from 2013, click on the attached PDF. You'll also see their most current score as of February 6th.