Restaurant Red Alert: State finds health code violations at Steak 'n Shake

11:47 PM, Mar 5, 2014   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Steak 'n Shake is known for its steak burgers, skinny fries, and mouth-watering milkshakes. But one customer is alleging something other than a mouth-watering experience at the Steak 'n Shake on Park Street in St. Petersburg.

The customer filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Department of Health reporting an adverse reaction after consuming a hamburger, fries, and strawberry shake. The customer reported the leftover burger even made his dog sick.

The customer who filed the original complaint did not report becoming severely ill and did not require medical attention.

The complaint sparked a food-borne illness investigation and a visit from state health inspectors with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, who reported finding potential cross contamination and temperature abuse, improper hand washing techniques, the dish washing machine not sanitizing properly, and no certified food manager on duty.

According to the state report, other violations included clean utensils found in a dirty drawer or rack; the shake machine dripping dairy product into the candy crumbles used for toppings; along with encrusted material found on the milkshake mixer head and can opener blade. There were temperature violations on the cooked chicken and raw hamburger beef, with the inspector ordering a "stop sale" on the butter, grilled onions, and six bins of candy toppings leaked on by the milkshake machine.

"It makes me not want to eat my food now! Especially because I have a milkshake," said Candice Phillips as she was pulling out of the Steak 'n Shake drive-thru.

10 News stopped into the restaurant to check on conditions following the state inspection. When we asked for permission to see inside the kitchen, a manager came to the front counter and told us we were not permitted in the kitchen. "I need you to leave," said the employee, who did not provide his name.

When we asked to see a copy of the restaurant's latest food service inspection report, the manager said he had a copy but we were not permitted to see it.

Steak 'n Shake is not required to show us their kitchen or even answer any questions, but providing a copy of their inspection report is required by Florida law.

"That's not true," the manager replied. "You can go ahead and leave and if you feel like you need to file a complaint, you can file a complaint, but I need you to leave the property."

Customers say they're concerned about the Park Street Steak 'n Shake's apparent inability to follow Florida's health code regulations.

"That's a concern for sure," said customer Anthony Virdo. "They have these things in place for a reason."

10 News reached out to Steak 'n Shake's corporate office for comment but they did not return our numerous calls.

Click here to see the Park Street Steak 'n Shake's entire inspection history.

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