(CBS) — If you’ve been to the Taste of Chicago or are planning to go this year, you’re going to want to know about this.
CBS 2’s Pam Zekman and a health expert visited the Taste to test the food safety of some of the offerings.
The 2 Investigators already reported that 16 of the 33 permanent restaurants featured at this year’s festival either failed a health inspection or had critical temperature violations in the past two years.
First up were baby back ribs from Porkchop. Food-safety expert Kantha Shelke took the temperature of the ribs right after they were served. They were 158 degrees.
“They’re good,” she said.
The Chicago Health Department requires that hot food be more than 140 degrees and cold food be kept below 40 degrees.
Shelke says foods that are not in that temperature range are in the danger zone.
“You could get really sick,” she says.
It didn’t take long to find some potential problems at the Taste of Chicago.
The “Monster Dog” sold at the Chicago Dog House booth registered at 108 degrees.
When confronted about the potentially dangerous temperature, the owner of The Chicago Dog House dismissed the idea that anyone could get sick.
“We’re putting them out super-fast,” said Aaron Wolfson, who cut the interview short.
But then he returned to comment further, saying, “This is supposed to be a fun event and you just make it bad for everybody. Thank you for ruining my experience today.”
The Chicago Health Department says they test every booth at the Taste for proper food temperatures four times a day.
That didn’t seem to help at the Billy Goat booth. The 2 Investigators bought a cheeseburger in the afternoon after two health department inspections at the booth, and it registered in the danger zone: 123 degrees.
One of the managers at Billy Goat said they would act immediately on the information and turned up the heat on the grill. Shelke praised the restaurant booth for doing so.
At Star of Siam, there were two temperature issues. The Pad Thai was only 127 degrees and pot stickers were only 121 degrees.
Plus, the pot stickers came with a long red human hair.
Star of Siam owner Ed Dooley told Zekman it was probably one of her own hairs. It was later determined it was likely one of the servers, however.
“Serving food in a park is not for the faint of heart, and it’s not for those that don’t understand food safety because you are now serving food to a vast number of people,” Shelke said.
CBS 2 tested food temperatures for seven restaurants it previously reported had failed city health inspections or had critical violations in the last two years. Of those, four passed a single sample temperature test at the Taste, including Connie’s Pizza, Punkies, Porkchop and Iyannze.
The best advice if you’re heading to the Taste: Make sure any food you get is piping hot, that way you know it’s safe to eat.
A spokeswoman for the city health department says when a violation or issue is found, “It is corrected immediately.”
She added, “All vendors are meeting our stringent health code requirements.”