Health inspector reveals worst violations and penalties for dirty restaurants

The Food Patrol gets to tag along with McAllen's chief health inspector for a behind-the-scenes look at his work.

Lupe Flores is known to be a pro when it comes to keeping the public safe.

He knows inspections are the primary line of defense against dirty dining.

Action 4's Ryan Wolf meets up with the inspector during a follow-up visit at Dejarvis Taco off South 10th Street and Dallas in McAllen.

Flores checks some of the 27 areas on an inspection as outlined by the Texas Food Establishment Rules.

He believes proper hand-washing is most critical to public health.

"It's important to wash your hands especially using the restroom and all that," he said.

Categories of inspection include temperature, personnel and facility requirements.

Insect and rodent contamination only account for three demerits each.

Flores says he will shut a restaurant down with roaches or rodents because they can carry disease and contaminate a kitchen.

"If we find somebody with roaches or rodents we try to close them immediately and ask them to take corrective action," he explained.

Flores doesn't buy the excuse he often hears on Food 4 Thought from a restaurant owner or management who claims roaches are everywhere and not a big deal.

He says it's a restaurant's obligation to do routine pest control.

"I see it all the time on TV where they say 'well, they have them everywhere,'" he explained. "Well, I'm in restaurants all the time and some are bad, others, I look... And I don't find any."

Inspectors are like the cops of kitchens.

Tickets can be issued to repeat health code offenders.

Flores doesn't take that responsibility lightly.

"It's important because it's food safety and somebody could get sick," he said.

He also knows some restaurants will try to butter up to inspectors by offering free food or drinks.

Flores avoids any potential conflict by not accepting anything.

The city also rotates inspectors semi-annually.

"We're in one area and then we get switched to another area so you don't get to familiar with the business owner," Flores explained.

Restaurant owners who are ticketed face potential hefty fines.

But Flores knows there's another unwritten penalty for those who can't keep it clean.

"Food 4 Thought, I think, has opened eyes," he said. "I've seen where the program picks up a business and it can also bring it down. If you want to be on the up and up, keep your restaurant in shape."

Dejarvis Taco makes good on housekeeping and equipment corrections.

Flores likely won't return for another couple of months.

But the job of an inspector is never done, as the quest to keep it clean continues at every kitchen across the city. Click here to follow Ryan Wolf on FacebookClick here to follow Ryan Wolf on TwitterClick here to watch past episodes of Food 4 Thought Top Performers List Low Performers List