Mall Food Courts: Do You Want E. Coli With That?

food courtAn alarming investigation into the food safety practices of mall food courts revealed what I've always suspected: You'd better stay away from the food court unless you'd like some sickening "condiments" alongside your burger and fries. It's definitely something to think about this weekend when you'll no doubt take a trip to the mall to get a jump start on that holiday shopping.

(Warning: This post is not for the faint of heart.)


Here are some of the more disgusting health violations a recent three-month Today investigation discovered inside some of the most popular malls in America:

  • A cockroach crawling next to the grill in Megumi of Japan in Boston’s Faneuil Hall.
  • Mouse droppings in the storage area (same restaurant as above).
  • Mouse droppings behind the refrigerator and in the food-preparation area of a restaurant called the Charcoal Grill in South Street Seaport in New York City.

The investigation actually found that the presence of rodents and insects was actually a common food court violation. Other widespread violations included ungloved workers, unsafe food temperatures (both hot and cold), and raw meat sitting out for too long.

The most vomit-inducing occurrence? A worker who put eye-drops in her eyes and then handed out food samples. Retch.

Here's the bottom-line: Food courts are likely even more unsafe that restaurants because their space is smaller yet the volume of food they make is greater. And with so many common unsafe food practices, your chances of getting E. Coli, salmonella, or another food-borne illness are exponentially increased.

So what's a hungry shopper to do? Well, you can try to choose a spot in the food court in which the workers look to have good hygiene (gloves, hair nets) and clean work spaces.

Or, you can do what I do and just skip the food court altogether. Ick.

Do you did you eat at the mall food court?


Image via bradleygee/Flickr

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