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Don’t Trust An “A”
By Brian W. Carter, Contributing Writer
Published April 18, 2019

Brian W. Carter (Courtesy photo)

So, I’m at a local fast food restaurant in Los Angeles, I’ve just placed my order and I’m waiting. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a rat run along the floor, behind the counter, under the area where your order waits to be bagged, and scurry into a small crevice.

I immediately call my sister, a former environmental health specialist for the county of Los Angeles, who informs me to immediately ask for a cash refund. She told me that if an establishment has a rodent problem—they have a huge problem.

I’m not skittish about rodents but to see them in a place that I frequent for food is very unnerving. The most unnerving is that fact that this popular food chain, with the rat, had an “A” grade in their window. How can you have an “A” grade and have a rodent problem?

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My sister informs me that one could’ve proceeded the other; they could’ve received an “A” after meeting all the specified requirements and then got a rodent problem. Another explanation she gave is that this particular fast food location hasn’t been checked since receiving an “A” grade. The other explanation could be the one many already know about, they bought their “A” grade.

I told the employee, who brought my order to the counter after I got off the phone with my sister, that I needed my money back. I told the employee that I saw a rat, which freaked the employee out and proceeded to give me my money back immediately.

I have seen many restaurants and fast food places have filthy bathrooms, pest issues and unsanitary conditions in Los Angeles, yet they have “A” letter grades continuously. I mean, what’s going on? Are these places truly being evaluated by qualified environmental health specialists? Are these restaurants fooling customers into thinking they are up to par by “buying” better grades?

Now I have lovely visions of rats and roaches crawling across my food when I go out to eat. It will pass, but I’m considering it a lesson to always be vigilant when eating out. Look around and see if the conditions are safe and sanitary. Is the restaurant clean? Is there bathroom always out of order? Do the cooks were gloves? Are the seats clean? Have they earned their “A”?

Brian W. Carter is a freelance journalist, writer and social media advisor based in Los Angeles, CA.

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Categories: Op-Ed | Opinion
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