How Clean Is Your Favorite Fast Food Restaurant? - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

FOX 29 Investigates: How Clean Is Your Favorite Fast Food Restaurant?

Posted: Updated:
FOX 29 Investigates took a look at inspection reports compiled by the Philadelphia Department of Health, and similar reports from Chester and Montgomery counties. FOX 29 Investigates took a look at inspection reports compiled by the Philadelphia Department of Health, and similar reports from Chester and Montgomery counties.
PHILADELPHIA -

Whether it's Chicken Strips from the Colonel, or cheeseburgers from McDonalds, most Americans seem to crave fast food. In fact, it's a $200-billion dollar a year industry.

But how clean and safe is your favorite sub or burger joint? And do you need to worry about getting sick after eating there?

Well, the chances of picking up a "food borne illness" at a fast food restaurant are pretty slim. But it does happen. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks food poisoning outbreaks, 100 people became seriously ill after eating at a Tennessee fast food restaurant last year.

In April, 2010, 28 people in Illinois were hospitalized after eating subs tainted with salmonella.

And in a 2009, a multi-state outbreak, 22 customers got sick from lettuce spoiled with the deadly e-coli bacteria.

Area fast food restaurants

But what about fast food restaurants in our neck of the woods, are they up to snuff?

To find out, we took a look at inspection reports compiled by the Philadelphia Department of Health, and similar reports from Chester and Montgomery counties. We found the reports online, gave them a close look, and crunched the numbers.

We zeroed in on five fast food chains, Burger King, KFC, McDonalds, Subway and Wendy's. We looked at every restaurant, and when possible, examined their last two inspection reports.

We looked at so-called "critical violations" or "Food Borne Illness Risk Factors" like hand washing and proper holding temperatures. We also examined violations of "Good Retail Practices" like cleanliness and pest control.

The results?

Philly restaurants averaged 4.75 violations per inspection. Restaurants in Montco and Chester counties averaged only 3.5 violations.

In the city, McDonalds and Wendy's averaged the most violations, with 5.3 per inspection. KFC was next with 5.2, Burger King had 4.4 and Subway fared best with 3.8.

Incredibly, 26 percent of the fast food haunts in Philadelphia were cited for some kind of insect or rodent violation. In the burbs, it was only 10 percent.

And when it comes to "critical violations," Philly restaurants averaged nearly 1.4 per inspection. Three restaurants had six.

Restaurants In Urban Areas

"Those are direct indicators that you potentially could get food borne illness," says Dr. Jennifer Quinlan, a food safety expert at Drexel University.

Quinlan says restaurants in urban areas face greater sanitation challenges than their suburban counterparts. All the more reason she says to be vigilant.

Of course, not every restaurant had problems. Wendy's on Wayne Avenue in Germantown wasn't cited for a single violation during its last two inspections.

"Our customers' health and safety is our number one priority," says Wendy's District Manager, Matt Daly. "Our customers come in and they expect to get a good, hot quality product and we want to make sure we deliver that in a safe environment."

So what's the bottom line when it comes to fast food in the city versus the burbs? Here's how Dr. Quinlan sees it.

"You could have a crumby facility, but if your food handler in the city just washed their hands before they prepared your food, you're better off than a beautiful facility in the suburbs where your food handler didn't wash their hands."

We called the corporate offices of each chain, but only Wendy's and KFC returned our calls.

A Wendy's spokesperson told us they "immediately address any violations" and they "welcome inspectors" who they say provide a "valuable service" that "helps ensure food is safe and wholesome."

KFC told us the company takes inspections "very seriously and takes any required action as soon as possible." A spokesperson added that "nothing is more important to KFC" and their franchisees "than food safety and quality."

  • Send A Tip To FOX 29 Investigates

    Have a tip for Investigative Reporter Jeff Cole and the FOX 29 Investigates team? Send it now!

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for submitting your tip!

  • Jeff Cole ReportsMore>>

  • Trump casinos file Chapter 11; Taj threatened

    Trump casinos file Chapter 11; Taj threatened

    Trump Entertainment Resorts has become the latest Atlantic City casino owner to file for bankruptcy protection.
    Trump Entertainment Resorts has filed for bankruptcy and threatened to close the Taj Mahal Casino resort in November if it can't get concessions from its unions.
  • FOX 29 Investigates: Motorist's Police Brutality Claim

    FOX 29 Investigates: Motorist's Police Brutality Claim

    Monday, September 8 2014 12:14 PM EDT2014-09-08 16:14:38 GMT

    A city man says he was the victim of police brutality during a traffic stop. But police tell a far different story. There is video, and FOX 29 Investigates' Jeff Cole has it.

    A city man says he was the victim of police brutality during a traffic stop. But police tell a far different story. There is video, and FOX 29 Investigates' Jeff Cole has it.

  • FOX 29 Investigates: Former Scout Leader Accused of Abuse

    FOX 29 Investigates: Former Scout Leader Accused of Abuse

    Friday, July 25 2014 1:36 AM EDT2014-07-25 05:36:56 GMT
    A new lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts and a former scoutmaster by a Chester County mother has the Scouts nationally explaining its actions in the case. Patsy Evasew claims the former scout leader sexually abused her son and it eventually led to his demise.The images of Thomas Evasew's sad, short life hang on the wall of his folks' Chester County home. "I feel when I touch it, I'm touching him. I miss him so every day. There's not a day that goes by,” says Patsy Evasew. She says she misse...
    A new lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts and a former scoutmaster by a Chester County mother has the Scouts nationally explaining its actions in the case. Patsy Evasew claims the former scout leader sexually abused her son and it eventually led to his demise.The images of Thomas Evasew's sad, short life hang on the wall of his folks' Chester County home. "I feel when I touch it, I'm touching him. I miss him so every day. There's not a day that goes by,” says Patsy Evasew. She says she misse...
  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Kent State University blasts red-stained sweatshirt sold by Urban Outfitters

    Kent State University blasts red-stained sweatshirt sold by Urban Outfitters

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 1:28 AM EDT2014-09-16 05:28:05 GMT
    A sweatshirt being sold by Urban Outfitters featuring fake blood stains and tattered edges with the logo of Kent State University, where four students were killed in a 1970 incident that shocked America, is “beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life,” university officials said.
    A sweatshirt being sold by Urban Outfitters featuring fake blood stains and tattered edges with the logo of Kent State University, where four students were killed in a 1970 incident that shocked America, is “beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life,” university officials said.
  • Police: 13-Year-Old Shot In Hunting Park

    Police: 13-Year-Old Shot In Hunting Park

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 12:28 AM EDT2014-09-16 04:28:27 GMT
    Police say a 13-year-old was shot in the city's Hunting Park section by Old York Road and Erie Ave on Monday night.
    Police say a 13-year-old was shot in the city's Hunting Park section by Old York Road and Erie Ave on Monday night.
  • Authorities Continue To Investigate State Police Barracks Shooting

    Authorities Continue To Investigate State Police Barracks Shooting

    Monday, September 15 2014 11:24 PM EDT2014-09-16 03:24:00 GMT

    State police say one trooper is dead and another is injured after a shooting at a state police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania. 

    State police say one trooper is dead and another is injured after a shooting at a state police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania. 

Powered by WorldNow

WTXF-TV
330 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2796

Phone: (215) 925-2929
Fax: (215) 982-5494

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices