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Reporting Health Code Violations =/= Mentioning that Health Code Violations have been Reported

According to Chow's posting policy, "Posts alleging food poisoning and other restaurant health-code violations (like finding bugs or other foreign objects in your food) are not permitted. An online discussion forum is not the place to report urgent and serious public health concerns. If you notice something, please tell the authorities."

This makes sense - it's just one diner's experience, possibly false, possibly part of a vendetta. But what does NOT make sense (but is happening right now) is to prevent people from discussing that a restaurant has been cited for violations. That's not an allegation. It's a fact.

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  1. "That's not an allegation. It's a fact."

    It's also a snapshot in time that may have (and probably has) been long since rectified.

    21 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Nope. It is today's news, and if you check the Mahattan board (quickly!), you may even be able to read about it.

      1. re: small h

        except the post lingers for years. it may be today's news, but 5 years from now someone will read that Cafe le Vermin was cited and not notice the date of March 6, 2014.

        1. re: hill food

          They could also read the Paula Deen said a terrible word, years after it happened, perhaps even years after Ms. Deen has died. Should posts about Paula Deen saying a terrible word also be disallowed?

          1. re: small h

            interesting question, yet short of an epiphany Paula Deen will always be Paula Deen, whereas Casa Infestada may very well have a complete change of ownership, staff, landlord, even location by next month.

            personally I feel better about going to a place that was recently busted as they have to have their act together under the extra scrutiny.

            1. re: hill food

              She might have that epiphany (stranger things have happened, although I can't think of one right now), but her history is her history, and - in my opinion - it shouldn't be whitewashed (hah!) just because it's unpleasant, or it was a long time ago, or things are different now.

              And I'll take a big leap here to say that just caters to idiots and slackers who can't be bothered to figure out whether they're looking at current or ancient information. I don't think idiots and slackers deserve that kind of coddling. But my main point, the one in my OP, is that Chowhound is violating its own policy by censoring in this way.

              1. re: small h

                You'll not find logic, nor consistency, in Chowhound's moderation policy, imo.

                1. re: carolinadawg

                  "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds"

                  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

                  1. re: Servorg

                    "Trust is built with consistency."

                    -Lincoln Chafee

                    1. re: Servorg

                      I know that your main mission is to defend Chowhound's moderation, no matter what, and I often agree with you. This isn't one of those times.

                      1. re: small h

                        My "main mission" is to say what I believe.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          You believe that inconsistent or self-contradictory moderation is desirable? I can't imagine why, but I also can't imagine why Paula Deen keeps running her mouth off, so obviously I don't know everything.

                          1. re: small h

                            I believe that if you try to have "consistent" rules that get applied to each and every situation that arises on this site, like some sort of robotic automaton, you will end up with a "three strikes" type of law that does not do justice (which needs to tempered with mercy and creativity to properly get the job done).

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Grandma, what long arms you have, to make a reach like that. This ain't the Rockefeller drug laws we're talking about, here. It's whether or not it's okay for me to post something a number of reputable news organizations have already reported. If you think it's not, that's cool, and also very strange.

                              1. re: small h

                                You are more than welcome to post about this situation as much as you would like. You just can't do it here on Chowhound. You find it strange. I find it refreshing.

                2. re: hill food

                  Or Bobby Flay jumped on his cutting board. I just saw that cited as a reason for never watching ICA.

                  1. re: hill food

                    mmmm...Casa Infestada. What's good there?

                    1. re: trolley

                      the fried cockroach tacos with corn smut are sublime, you'll never go back to grasshoppers.

                      1. re: hill food

                        thanks for the recommendations! i was hoping for rat tail soup but oh well!

              2. re: small h

                The same place had health code problems in 2012, was given a B, complained to the health department (or threw their considerable weight around, depending on who's telling the story) and got the grade changed.

                1. re: caganer

                  Which is why this particular instance is precisely what should warrant a relaxation - an inconsistent application, if you will - of the (nonsensical) ban on reporting the reported. Because it's a very famous, much admired, tremendously successful, extremely expensive restaurant. What happens to it is food news. And we have a whole board about that.

              3. re: Servorg

                Well, apparently not: "This time, [restaurant] was hit with 42 violation points, although the DOH reveals that this is the ***third time*** [the] restaurant has received more than 40 violation points. The restaurant received five critical sanitary violation points for not holding hot food at or above 140 degrees, holding cold food items above 41 degrees, not providing a hand-washing facility near the food preparation area, an employee eating, drinking, or smoking in a food preparation area, and not providing clean wiping cloths for staff."

                From thedailymeal.com

              4. This is a question that comes up periodically on Site Talk. Here's a recent explanation of the reason for the policy: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9270...

                20 Replies
                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                  I have a lovely fix for you. Edit the thread heading to include the characters [OLD], as soon as the thread becomes [OLD]. If it works for Trader Joe's threads, I bet it will work in this case, too.

                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                    Why are some violations of this policy tolerated and not others?

                    (I'm not trying to be overly hard on the mods, BTW... I realize it's a touchy subject. But if you ask me - and I know no one did - once a story is national news, it may as well be considered fair game)

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      I wonder if #2 and #3 just didn't get flagged. #1 doesn't name names so I guess that's the reason.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        #1 does name names. Second to last paragraph - mentions the Fat Duck food poisoning scare specifically.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Oops, you're right. So maybe it's a "do as I say, not as I do" thing?

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Difference for #1 is it's on Chow and not CH. The other two probably got overlooked.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Right. Written by them not us :)

                              I honestly think the rule is a good one. I see enough food safety questions flying around this site, that I don't want a restaurant to go out of business because of a single instance in the past that was properly dealt with.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                "Difference for #1 is it's on Chow and not CH."
                                Certainly true. But why would/should that matter?

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  Well, CHOW is written by CHOW employees, isn't it? Whereas CH is written by CHs

                                  I keep hoping the team will give us the hot skinny :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Paid Chow writers have editors and editorial guidelines. Chowhound "contributors" have moderators and posting rules/guidelines. I do note that the other two threads that were brought to light in this thread by cowboyardee have now been taken down from the site.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Really? Cool. The flag button really is there for a reason, folks.

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        "the other two threads that were brought to light in this thread by cowboyardee have now been taken down from the site."
                                        Ugh. Apologies to contributors of those two threads. That wasn't my intention.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          Well, hey, they enforced the rules!

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            Consistently! Wasn't that what folks were clamoring for?

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                Not me. I was actually hoping for judicious application of the policy.

                                                The stated reason behind the policy is that they don't want to tarnish the reputation of a restaurant with outdated reports or inaccurate info.
                                                Most likely, there is an unsaid reason as well - they don't want to provide a venue for those in the industry to smear competitors. Or be faced with any liability from claims that turn out to be falsified.

                                                Neither of those apply to the threads I linked to - they were broadly publicized stories about the restaurant industry. They don't apply to the situation the OP is asking about either, for the same reason.

                                                I have no problem with a policy forbidding new allegations of healthcode violations/food poisoning - we are not health inspectors, afterall. Even a ban on discussing verified citations by local health inspectors that haven't been picked up by the media makes a kind of sense, though that would be a murkier situation. But not being able to talk about a national news story about restaurants on a site about restaurants? That has a bad vibe. It's consistency for consistency's sake alone - and no other reason.

                            2. re: cowboyardee

                              #2 and #3 are clearly dated news items. If they are removed, then recent notices of recalls, such as Hot Pockets and Rancho Slaughterhouse need to be removed as well. And last year's European horse meat news as well.

                              1. re: paulj

                                The issue the OP is dancing around is a dated news item as well. The date just happens to be today.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  Exactly. Absent any logical explanation, I'll speculate that it's a very poorly designed and haphazardly enforced cover-Chowhound's-ass policy. If it applies to health code violations in restaurants, it ought to apply to health code violations in products as well, like your Hot Pockets example, or whatever the e. coli contamination du jour is. But it clearly does not. Nor am I aware of any threads being removed because they contain other kinds of outdated information about a particular restaurant. I note in particular one extant thread that is an obituary for a restaurant that closed (temporarily, it turns out) because of a fire.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    We don't usually remove "restaurant closed" discussions when they reopen but we do like to update the titles so that people don't see them in Google results and assume that it's still the case. If that's the case with the thread you're mentioning, please do Flag it for us.

                            3. It took me all of 10 seconds to search for and find the news reports of the health dept findings at "Chez Voldemort". Really silly of the PTB to censor discussions of problems that have been widely reported in the media. As for the rationale being that deficiencies are likely to be one-time things that are promptly corrected, if a potential diner violations a factor in deciding whether or not to patronize the place, he has the right to do that. Why should CH assume deficiencies are atypical and fleeting, and play the role of fixer, smoothing over bad publicity in a restaurant's response to violations?