Off the top of my head, I'd definitely rank being health inspector as one of the grossest jobs. I knew a guy who was a health inspector for the better part of 20 years and the stories he'd tell me about some of the businesses he had to evaluate just about chilled me to the bone. Rats, roaches, horrid bathrooms, the way some managers cut corners... it was too much. (It's a wonder I even still eat out... does that mean I'm crazy? More at 11.)

After Redditor BansheeShriek asked the online community, "Health inspectors of Reddit, what are your horror stories?" people––health inspectors or otherwise––certainly delivered.

"So that was pretty interesting."

I got a complaint that someone saw a mouse run through the kitchen and dining room so I was like whatever, sure. I'll check it out. I get there and there is sewage backing up from the drains and starting to smell. Okay, pretty gross. I accidentally kicked the prep table and heard a pitter patter, look in the aluminum foil, roaches. Look in some of the food containers, roaches. Look in back room.. there is a wall/flat large object resting against the wall and I move it and the entire wall was covered in roaches. Shut them down pretty quick and had them call Orkin in front of me and make an appointment to get it resolved. This was about 2 years ago. So that was pretty interesting.

Calculated Lamp

"Told this to the owner..."

Went down to inspect the basement of a Chinese takeout restaurant which seemed oddly small and couldn't find the boiler or fuse box. Told this to the owner who removed a Sheetrock wall. The grease trap had overflowed and there were at least 2 inches of grease on the floor, they had put down some wood planks to walk on, I was gagging, truly one of the most disgusting sights I ever had the misfortune to see.


"They claimed..."

Local Chinese place was closed because the inspector found seagulls in the feezer. They claimed that they never served them to customers, but were eating them themselves. Saw another comment below where someone said a Chinese place was closed for the same thing. The thought of this happening at numerous Chinese places makes me happy to be a vegetarian.


"Did a brief stint..."

Did a brief stint as a public health inspector in 2007. Not a pleasant job, didn't stick it out for long.

Couple highlights:

  • Washing russets in the dish machine before baking. A low-temp chlorine system, no less.
  • An inch think layer of dull pink scum found at the bottom of an ancient ice machine.
  • Storage of frozen foods outdoors on a rooftop during the winter. No shelter, covered in snow, ravens picking at various boxes of raw meat and seafood.
  • A dish pit with a foot deep sinkhole just in front of the machine, covered with a pair of 2x6 planks to allow access.
  • A line cook working the salad station with no pants.
  • Quat sanitizer bottles filled with oven degreaser.
  • A line cook breaking a plate on the flattop grill and attempting to continue cooking without proper cleaning.


Not a health inspector, but we had a local Chinese restaurant get shut down for washing their dishes in the lake behind the restaurant.


"I honestly felt bad for them."

Was NOT doing a health inspection, but I was on a road trip and stopped at a Taco Bell.

One of the workers was wearing a glove on one hand. IT WAS FULL OF BLOOD. And he was still working. To his credit, it didn't look like he was getting blood everywhere, but there's only so much a glove can do.

I honestly felt bad for them. They were understaffed and couldn't really spare a worker, but this dude needed to get his hand checked out by a medical professional so I told the manager that I was going to call someone to come out RIGHT NOW if they didn't let him clock out and deal with his hand. And then I left because I did not want to eat there anymore.


"One day..."

I used to work in a pizza place. One day, I grabbed a ketchup bottle off of one of the tables to fill it up. I opened it and it was full of maggots. People had been using it.


"I REALLY hope she changed gloves."

Not a health inspector, but watched a line cook leave a bathroom stall with her gloves on, not wash, then go back into the kitchen. I REALLY hope she changed gloves. Not saying anything about it is one of my biggest regrets.


"He demanded to enter the kitchen..."

A family member pulled up to inspect a Chinese restaurant and saw them dragging a carcass through the back doors. He demanded to enter the kitchen and saw them chopping up a deer that an employee had hit with their car.


"They were trying to crawl..."

They had a wasp infestation in the walls. It was terrifying. They were trying to crawl trough the electrical sockets and you could hear buzzing coming from all around. It was one of the most terrifying days of my life in that building.


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