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There's A Hair In My Food!


hm212
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My daughter called me this afternoon, to tell me she was eating lunch out today and in the middle of lunch rush two mice started running around the middle of the dining room.

I was not there and NO, I will NOT name the restaurant. - PM me if you really want to know. Well known and liked, but not a sacred cow.

I did not get the full story if meals were comped or other diner reactions, just the fact that it happened.

I told her they were probably just field mice and it could have happened anywhere. Do you think that was right (accurate)?

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My daughter called me this afternoon, to tell me she was eating lunch out today and in the middle of lunch rush two mice started running around the middle of the dining room.

I was not there and NO, I will NOT name the restaurant. - PM me if you really want to know. Well known and liked, but not a sacred cow.

I did not get the full story if meals were comped or other diner reactions, just the fact that it happened.

I told her they were probably just field mice and it could have happened anywhere. Do you think that was right (accurate)?

If the manager was told by her, or more diners that mice were running around in the same room they were eating, I'd expect a comped meal. The restaurant: should expect a visit from the Health Dept., because that would have bee my first call.

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If the manager was told by her, or more diners that mice were running around in the same room they were eating, I'd expect a comped meal. The restaurant: should expect a visit from the Health Dept., because that would have bee my first call.

First, and only depending on the restaurant, I would ascertain whether they were organic.

After all, they were obviously: 1) "free-range" 2) "local" and 3) "seasonal." So they might be on the menu.

Second, in DC, you can't judge the restaurant by the vermin it keeps (customers aside).

I have been seated in two restaurants in Washington and seen rats come through THE FRONT DOOR as though they had reservations. Yes, the front door. Explain that to the inspector.

Soooooo....to answer the question: if they were not on the menu and did not have reservations, ony then would I comp the meal.

Eli

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HM212, I think you're right. I'm not as freaked about seeing a little field mouse run through as I would be a large rat. Now, if it was in the dish, that would be another story completely. And then we'd talk about getting out of there, not getting something comped.

True story, I had a salad with a fly in it served to me at Uno's in Union Station. A fairly large housefly. I found it about halfway through. When I pointed it out to the server, he made it disappear and made my lunch disappear off the check. Which was good, because I didn't really feel like eating after having eaten half a salad with god only knows what in it.

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If the manager was told by her, or more diners that mice were running around in the same room they were eating, I'd expect a comped meal. The restaurant: should expect a visit from the Health Dept., because that would have bee my first call.

Would you call the health department if you found two field mice in your house? I have to agree with all the others that it is not a big deal.

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True story, I had a salad with a fly in it served to me at Uno's in Union Station. A fairly large housefly. I found it about halfway through. When I pointed it out to the server, he made it disappear and made my lunch disappear off the check. Which was good, because I didn't really feel like eating after having eaten half a salad with god only knows what in it.
We got a piece of string baked into a pizza there once. They said they figured it had probably been wrapped around the mozzarella. They were a little concerned but we got nothing comped. This was years ago, before the current (apparent) comping frenzy.
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Until I can be sure of what's possibly living in my walls I refuse to condemn a restaurant for having mice. Rats I am not so casual about.
Rats seem to get rid of the mice, which I know from unfortunate experience.
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please share your experience
It was very unpleasant and I'd rather not think about it again. (This was at home, not a restaurant.) We finally figured out where the hole was that they were using to get into the house, but it was an ugly couple of months until that point. I had people telling me that I couldn't have mice and rats at the same time, but I did. Then I realized that the mice weren't there any more. They co-exist for a while. Perhaps in a large enough space, they both can maintain residence, but our mice disappeared when the rats got bad. (Got bad...ha...any rat is bad. I didn't think I'd ever feel nostalgic for having mice.)

The rats started to appear right after a nearby pizza place got shut (temporarily) for grossly unsanitary conditions. I suspect they kept moving down the street until they found a way inside.

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Um, Ah. Isn't that why you have cats? Don't you make them earn their kibble?
Are you kidding me? :blink: They don't actually work. Their job is to look pretty.

I don't want to see them in the restaurants, of course, but rats must be almost impossible to get rid of. That was brought home to me one Thanksgiving twenty years ago, walking around deserted Dupont Circle. They were everywhere, strolling around bold as brass. Do most places use poison, or traps?

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if there are a couple of mice who have come in from the cold running around the dining room, there easily may be more, and afterhours at least, they will all be headed to the kitchen to see what they can find. it was the shredding of our paperback copy of "joy of cooking," i believe, that once alerted us to the fact that we had a mouse problem at home, although it was nothing like the invasion we experienced one autumn when the temperature plunged and they were coming up through a drain in the kitchen. the sad thing about mice is that they seem to enjoy people and expect better than slaughter from them.

from kiran desai, in town this week to read from "the inheritance of loss," comes this description of a worker playing with a mouse in the kitchen of a manhattan bakery:

"Saeed Saeed caught a mouse at the Queen of Tarts, kicked it up with his shoe, dribbled it, tried to exchange it with Biju, who ran away, tossed it up, and as it came down, kicked it squeaking up again, laughing, "So it is you who has been eating eating the bread, eh, it is you eating the sugar?" It went hysterically up until it came down dead. Fun over. Back to work."

the mice are eventually the restaurant's undoing:

"At the bakery a customer found an entire mouse baked inside a sunflower loaf. It must have gone after the seeds....

"A team of health inspectors asrrived. They entered in the style of U.S. Marines, the FBI, the CIA, the NYPD; burst in: HANDS UP!

"They found a burst sewage pipe, a hiccuping black drain, knives stored behind the toilet, rat droppings in the flour, and in a forgotten basin of eggs, single-celled organisms so comfortable they were reproducing on their own without inspiration from another."

maybe i'm wrong, but this passage leans in the direction of my thoughts when i stroll past many of the few remaining restaurants in the area of downtown washington we still call chinatown. the good chinese cooking seems to have mostly vanished, and only the seediness of the establishments has managed to survive. we were checking out the peking duck in spices recently, which was laminated with new cork wall tiles since the last time we were there and seemed to be more about surfaces than food, and it revived memories of the smoked duck at hunan chinatown. the spices big whole duck ($30) was not bad, but hardly outstanding: the pancakes were damp and chilly, draining much of the warmth and flavor of the duck, and the scallions and cucumber tasted largely of rinsing. gnawing the meat off the bones the next night at home was more satisfying duck than the duck presented in the restaurant, with perfume, sweetness and carmel notes lingering over the meat, a surprise because i wasn't expecting that much. it was fairly greasy though, nothing like the flintiness that kliman remembers from the yanyu duck. after yanyu first closed, and the duck migrated to spices, i thought the relocation had done the duck good. now, i don't think so. i'm looking for those thick, meaty, smoky hacked up pieces from the yesteryears of chinatown. yanyu, apparently, was just too pan-asian to be able to sustain for long a healthy focus on chinese cooking.

they serve rats in china, i read several years ago in a wall street journal account, but the rats were field rats, not city rats. the chinese believe they are good for your blood, at least in the story.

tom sietsema yesterday said he would eat just about anything, except babies. would he eat a mouse?

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I think I've only ever seen mice in a restaurant (as a customer at least) once. It was at a restaurant on Capitol Hill a few weeks before Christmas. This particular joint was next door to a hardware store that received a big delivery of Christmas trees that day. I chalked the sighting up to that fact. They were just tourist mice visiting from the country looking for a feed. As long as they remember to stand on the right and walk on the left, I say live and let live. If they don't, then deal with them as inhumanely as possible.

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I kid you not that this evening as I left Golden West Cafe in Baltimore, the server apologized for the restaurant's fly problem.

What had been a nuisance during dinner became disgusting when we were no longer actively eating the food on our plates... flys and fruit flies swarmed the dishes and the remaining food. It was really gross. As the server had only stopped by once during the entire meal, I decided to go get someone to clear the table.

When I informed the wait staff that there were flies swarming our food, they said they knew and that the restaurant had been having a fly problem.

Is it me, or should a restaurant with a fly problem perhaps not be open for business?

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I kid you not that this evening as I left Golden West Cafe in Baltimore, the server apologized for the restaurant's fly problem.

What had been a nuisance during dinner became disgusting when we were no longer actively eating the food on our plates... flys and fruit flies swarmed the dishes and the remaining food. It was really gross. As the server had only stopped by once during the entire meal, I decided to go get someone to clear the table.

When I informed the wait staff that there were flies swarming our food, they said they knew and that the restaurant had been having a fly problem.

Is it me, or should a restaurant with a fly problem perhaps not be open for business?

Some restaurants pay $2-3,000 a month to take care of this problem.

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Some restaurants pay $2-3,000 a month to take care of this problem.

And sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease! I used to work at a place (not in D.C.) that had a fly problem near a big picture window at the front. We had a company come and fumigate a couple of times a week and the owner insisted on them coming before opening to kill the flies. This tended to only mask the problem (flies die and are gone for that day, but the next generation just came back). Not only that, but the company invariably showed up with big canisters of fly poison and sprayed pretty much indiscriminately in the problem section ... after it had been set for service. This usually resulted in an unlucky server having to tear down, wipe off, and reset some big tables minutes before the doors opened. You can probably guess that this didn't always happen. I don't think anybody was actually poisoned ...

Some of the more environmentally sensitive waitstaff refused to go anywhere near that section, and we did sometimes get guests complaining of the fumes. No flies in the soup, however!!

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HM212, I think you're right. I'm not as freaked about seeing a little field mouse run through as I would be a large rat. Now, if it was in the dish, that would be another story completely. And then we'd talk about getting out of there, not getting something comped.
Maybe in Vietnam. Watch out for the "little tiger" entrees. Wasn't sure if this should go into the cooking forum because it includes recipes.
Rat-based cuisine is beginning to catch on in the big cities as well. Handwritten signs in some of the backstreets of Hanoi offer cash in return for freshly caught rat. "Both Vietnamese and foreign tourists are eating more rat meat these days," says Pham Huu Thanh, proprietor of the Luong Son Quan restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, the former southern capital Saigon. Mr. Thanh serves rat grilled with lemon grass or roasted in garlic for around 60,000 Vietnamese dong, or $4, a serving. (Rat may taste like chicken, but with a tiny rat drumstick between your fingers, it's hard to pretend it really is.)
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There is a place that I love, as do others on the board. It is amazing. I pick up from the restaurant many times a month, and eat in on occasion. I am supposed to pick up this evening....

but...

The last time I picked up (just last week), there was a long black hair embedded into one of the mixtures in a dish (think of an egg roll, you know the mixture gets wrapped up in something). I have medium length, brown hair of a completely different texture so I know it wasn't mine. Plus it was inside the dish.

It was gross. I have complained about many things in restaurants but I think I have a new standard for disgusting (other than bugs and rodents).

What should I do? I could go to the manager/owner and tell them but I am not sure how they will respond/care. Should I call the health department? (for the record, one of the common complaints about the restaurant is that it is not that clean)...

Can I keep eating there after such a hygienic lapse?

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It is gross because it's unexpected. But I think it happens in the industry. I think the mgr/owner cares, as that's how they've responded in the past when I've brought it to their attention before at other places.

I don't think it's a health dept issue, though, but I don't know. I'm not feeling this as a big deal, in the sense that there are bigger hygienic issues to be concerned about, and it's dead protein. Probably more dead because it's been cooked or deep fried.

But this is my 2 cents. Ultimately, you need to do what you're comfortable with.

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It is gross because it's unexpected. But I think it happens in the industry. I think the mgr/owner cares, as that's how they've responded in the past when I've brought it to their attention before at other places.

I don't think it's a health dept issue, though, but I don't know. I'm not feeling this as a big deal, in the sense that there are bigger hygienic issues to be concerned about, and it's dead protein. Probably more dead because it's been cooked or deep fried.

But this is my 2 cents. Ultimately, you need to do what you're comfortable with.

Thank you! I didn't think it was a health dept. issue either but wanted to check.

You are right, it was the shock of the unexpected that got me. You make another good point, which I actually thought about when I saw the hair and pulled it out, it has been cooked thoroughly. :lol:

The question remains, can I still eat there? Is it okay for me to overlook hygiene if the food is really good?

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Thank you! I didn't think it was a health dept. issue either but wanted to check.

You are right, it was the shock of the unexpected that got me. You make another good point, which I actually thought about when I saw the hair and pulled it out, it has been cooked thoroughly. :lol:

The question remains, can I still eat there? Is it okay for me to overlook hygiene if the food is really good?

If hair in the food was a constant problem then I would be concerned. A hair getting into the food seem rather random and not a serious hygiene issue to me so I say eat away.

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I don't think it's a health dept issue, though, but I don't know. I'm not feeling this as a big deal, in the sense that there are bigger hygienic issues to be concerned about, and it's dead protein. Probably more dead because it's been cooked or deep fried.
Technically, it is health dept. issue. Long hair should be tied back, and employees should have hats or hairnets.
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Yes, but let's look at this realistically. HAIR HAPPENS. Unless you expect every restaurant employee to shave themselves bald, there will always be the chance of incidental hair, even with hairnets and tied back hair. This does not even consider the teeny, tiny arm or knuckle hairs that could end up in your food. I agree that unless you're regularly getting hairs in your food, I'd consider it a one-off and leave the poor folks alone.

Now, if you were like my sister's friend who found a used bandage in her food, then I would have called in a blink. She never did and kept eating there.

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If you really like the place, I wouldn't sic the health department on 'em. Since you say it's a pretty respected joint, I doubt they'll have violations worthy of a shutdown (unless they have rats doing all the cooking by hiding under the chefs' toques), but it would still be a pain in the ass for the owner to have to deal with.

I agree with synaesthesia - hair happens. Hell, shit happens. Once is no big deal.

I had a friend who went to a Taco Bell in Iowa and found a small brown hair in her food. The problem? All the employees were blonde.

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Should I call the health department? (for the record, one of the common complaints about the restaurant is that it is not that clean)...Can I keep eating there after such a hygienic lapse?
Call immigration and eliminate the “long black hair” threat entirely.

Then consider the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “out of sight, out of mind” Food Defect Action Levels (hair-lengths not included).

Reader’s Digest version.

The highlight reel:

Canned tomatoes: Average of 10 or more fly eggs per 500 grams or 5 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots per 500 grams OR 2 or more maggots per 500 grams.

Ketchup: Average mold count in 6 subsamples is 55% or more.

Cinnamon, ground: Average of 400 or more insect fragments per 50 gram; average of 11 or more rodent hairs per 50g.

Fennel Seed: 20% or more of subsamples contain mammalian excreta.

Macaroni and noodle products: Average of 225 insect fragments or more per 225 grams in 6 or more subsamples;

Average of 4.5 rodent hairs or more per 225 grams in 6 or more subsamples.

Oregano, ground: Average of 1250 or more insect fragments per 10 grams; Average of 5 or more rodent hairs per 10 grams.

Raisin bran: 10 or more equivalent insects and 35 Drosophila eggs per scoop.

Wheat Flour: Average of 75 or more insect fragments per 50 grams; average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 50 grams.

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Thanks Povorot... could have done without that list.

The truth is I have a doctor friend who thinks we should eat a teaspoon of dirt every day to build immunity. There is something to be said for her theory.

I went back tonight. Mentioned it to one of the managers. They appreciated hearing, but don't expect them to do anything.

Unfortunately tonight was an off night food quality wise. Might give the place a rest for a while anyway.

Regardless, thank you for all your opinions.

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Thanks Povorot... could have done without that list.

The truth is I have a doctor friend who thinks we should eat a teaspoon of dirt every day to build immunity. There is something to be said for her theory.

I went back tonight. Mentioned it to one of the managers. They appreciated hearing, but don't expect them to do anything.

Unfortunately tonight was an off night food quality wise. Might give the place a rest for a while anyway.

Regardless, thank you for all your opinions.

I hate to repeat the old joke, but:

Q:What's worse than a roach in your food?

A: Half a roach.

Sorry :lol:

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