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What would YOU do?

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I was at what I thought was the BEST fried clams/seafood place in the area.

I was in the midst of making my first trek to this place for the season for out of this world clams and scallops.

It's the kind of place where you order at a counter, get a number, wait in line and pick up your order.

No frills, but visibly clean.

I was waiting in line and kitchen is open.

I was watching a line cook pull a tray of prepped portioned haddock from the fridge to be battered.

Long story short: As he was pulling it from the fridge the lid of the rubber container came off and half of the portions of haddock landed on the floor.

He sighed and bent down to pick them up while stating "the lids always come undone."

He said "I'm taking them out back" and proceeded to plunk the portions from the floor on top of the uncontaminated portions and disappeared.

My question: Why would he have put the contaminated fish on top of the uncontaminated fish if he intended to discard the portions that LANDED ON THE FLOOR.

I shudder as I have images of his washing the pieces and returning them to be prepared.

Am I overreacting? If he did this in front of customers, what is he doing outside the view of people?

Is it a reasonable assumption that is something lands on the cement floor it is discarded or am I naive?

I didn't say anything, I watched. What would you have done??

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  1. what if he just threw the whole tray away?
    wastful, sure. But I could see laziness kicking in and him just thinking " I aint setting this tray aside, getting someting to put the ones on the floor in, taking them to the trash, washing my hands", etc......He just said "screw it, in the garbage this tray goes! what do I care, it aint my fish!"

    but honestly, Im betting he washed them off(or not) and they got served. This is the downside of an open kitchen. sometimes you see things you rather hadnt!

    1. I would have been grossed out , I probably would have told the manager, and then enjoyed my scallops and clams!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bite Me

        I would have asked what happened to the fish he just dropped. For sure. Ask!! I've seen lot's of wasteful stuff in kitchens..and he may have tossed em.

      2. Is there any chance he took them out to wash them? If I had portions of fish fall on the floor, that's what I'd do at home, assuming that the heat of frying will kill anything that survives the running water. In a restaurant, I don't know. Likely I would have given my place in line to someone else. Or maybe stayed and ordered something else. Probably would depend on how hungry I was at the moment and how far it was to the next eatery. Have you thought about making a report to the health department?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Caroline1

          I'm with Caroline1 on the washing off and rebattering thing. The batter probably would have acted as a shield of sorts between the actual fish pieces and the floor/filth. If the cook was careful enough in rinsing, rebattering and then frying those babies up, I wouldn't have a problem with it if it were in my home. At the same time, you were there and I wasn't - if the floor looked grimy, I might have some second thoughts and question the integrity, e.g., actual particles embedding in the flesh. It's a tough call - I hate to see food wasted especially for something that gave its life for our sustenance, but not at the expense of anybody's health.

        2. Out of sight out of mind.
          If you saw some of the things that went on behind the scenes you probably wouldn't eat out again in your life.

          Think of all the places that fish has been even before they battered it....from flopping around in a filthy holding tank on a boat to the time its cleaned and battered. The floor was just an extra stop.

          I don't think dropping food on the floor and cooking it is any health code violation.

          I'd be more worried about the lemons they put in my iced tea...have they been washed properly?

          1. "Is it a reasonable assumption that is [sic] something lands on the cement floor it is discarded or am I naive?"

            ____________________________________________________________

            You're naive.

            1. Shut my eyes tight, cover my ears and loudly hum "It's a Small World After All...." until my brain stops thinking about what I just saw.

              Seriously, I am getting more and more relaxed about these things. Dirt floor? Yeah, if this happened outside in dirt (I see dirt and think bugs) I may skip the haddock. But I over sanitize the rest of my life to balance out a rinsed off dropped hunk of fish or two...

              2 Replies
              1. re: Boccone Dolce

                Seriously...if Chef Gordon Ramsay saw that and he did on one of his shows,
                where the cook dropped a piece of fish on the floor and then threw it in the deep fryer, went hell bent on him about trying to kill someone. The guys explaination was, "The hot oil will kill all the grems". I would have at least told the told the manager and made sure I didn't order that food.

                1. re: flylice2x

                  Seriously- isn't this why we can only handle ready to eat food gloved, but everything else DOH doesn't ask you to glove up?
                  I suppose comparing dirty hands to the floor isn't nearly the same thing- your hands go where your feet can't...
                  (winky wink)

              2. the op wasn't even ordering haddock! lol.

                nobody remembers julia child dropping stuff on the floor and cooking it anyway?

                yes, in a perfect world, a conscientious line cook would have thrown away the pieces without contaminating other food. next best, washed them before cooking, but that would also involve drying them for proper frying.

                at a clam shack, i just would have ordered what didn't fall on the floor. there is probably more dirt in your oatmeal.

                1. If it was cooked, and dropped on the floor, I wouldn't want to eat it...probably. Although if I threw out everything that had ever hit the floor, my family would go hungry. My dogs and cats wouldn't, however.
                  Maybe it doesn't worry me so much because I'm descended from hearty prairie stock, where they used to just cut off the nasty rowdy bits and cook the rest.