Chicago has had thousands of restaurants fail health inspections this year. How worried should this make you? Not very, actually.
According to City of Chicago data, which you can see below, over 2,700 restaurants have failed health inspections in 2015 between January 1st and October 27th. That isn’t just Chicago’s 7,300 restaurants failing health inspections, mind you; when you count every establishment that serves and prepares food and drinks, Chicago businesses subject to health inspections by the Chicago Department of Public Health number in the tens of thousands.
In total, there have been about 15,000 total inspections in 2015 — which means about 18 percent were failed inspections.
The majority of problems that lead to failed health inspections — even the ones that lead to temporary closings — are often easy and quick to fix, exposing customers to little risk.
I’m not trying to diminish food safety or customer health. I’m just trying to emphasize that failed health inspections are common. Most businesses rarely deserve tarnished reputations due to a failed inspection.
Why do restaurants fail an inspection?
Take the Chipotle at 316 North Michigan Avenue, for example. According to city data, the main reason they were briefly closed by the Health Department in September was “fruit flies.”
“Over 30 flying insects on walls and ceiling,” an official report noted.
According to the city’s data, this failure is rated “Risk 1 (high).” That sounds bad, but when I talked to the Department of Public Health in September, they’d described the problem as “fairly common.”
A spokesperson with the Department said a problem like this “can usually be resolved quickly with the assistance of professional pest control operators.”
Needless to say, though the Health Department closed that Chipotle location, they were able to pass re-inspection and re-open in less than 12 hours.
So please, take the below list of restaurants that failed health inspections with a grain of salt, preferably from the shaker of a Health Department-approved restaurant.