Andy's Restaurant Scorecard: Food-tampering laws, plus scores - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andy Wise

Andy's Restaurant Scorecard: Food-tampering laws, plus scores as of 4/23/09

Good restaurant managers have a mantra for catching their employees either making mistakes or tampering with food.

Whatever the amount of surveillance cameras your restaurant has, double it.

More restaurants are following that mantra to the letter now, especially in the wake of two pizza employees in North Carolina who recently filmed themselves in the restaurant kitchen sneezing on food, putting cheese up their noses and passing gas on food items. 

They posted the video on YouTube.

Their bosses fired them, and now they're charged with felonies.

Tim Darnell, director of environmental health at the Mississippi State Department of Health, says there can only be food-tampering charges or a restaurant permit suspension "...if it is witnessed by a MSDH inspector."

In Arkansas, legal and health sources say food-tampering can result in a misdemeanor battery charge, punishable by a $500 fine and up to a year in jail.

Hugh Atkins, director of general environmental health for the Tennessee Department of Health, says there is no food-tampering law in Tennessee's health code, but health officials or victims can press assault charges.

But in each state, the offense has to be caught in the act, preferably on camera.

That's where THIS WEEK'S BIG TIP comes in:

Kooky Canuck, 97 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103, (901) 578-9800,

No one gets away with anything at the Kooky Canuck, whose latest health inspection score is a 95.

It has 16 surveillance cameras, some in the strangest of places, but for a clear purpose.

"We can always look and see what's going on all the time," says Terry Trim, the restaurant's general manager.  "Just because the employees don't see us doesn't mean we don't see them."

In fact, one of the cameras in the kitchen caught two employees April 20 fist-fighting in front of the cooking station.  The footage, which has been destroyed, helped determine who was at fault, and the managers fired him on the spot.

The cameras make sure there is no funny business at the Kooky Canuck, with employees or customers.

"Hope I had my manners," jokes Chris Merritt, a customer from Hernando, MS.  "The food's always been great, and there's never been any kind of disturbance here when I was here, so at least everybody's being held accountable and not just me."

For all of the week's Memphis-Shelby County restaurant scores, click here.

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