Businesses work with health department to reopen

(WANE photo)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) 13 Restaurants in Allen County have been shut down this year, mostly because of pest problems. Now, employees at the health department said they’re getting dozens of complaints.

As of Tuesday, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health received 121 food-related complaints this year. Overnight, roughly 40 more came in.

PHOTOS | Health Department inspection results

Out of the 14 closures this year in Fort Wayne, 11 were for rodents or cockroaches.

“Looking at last year in 2013, we had 23 closures for the entire year, and so far this year, we’ve had 14 closures, so it is a much higher number,” said Ann Applegate, Director of the Food and Consumer Protection Division.

Applegate said the notice of closure sign posted outside these facilities is creating awareness.

“Folks are reporting more complaints in to the health department and as a result of those complaints we’re going out and doing investigations and we’re finding these problems that people have reported to us and it’s resulted in closures,” said Applegate.

“How many, where are they, you know I guess would be my big concern and so what are they doing about it?” said Joseph Kinder, a customer at some of these establishments.

Applegate said one of the health department’s field inspectors goes into the business, checks to see if it has a pest control service, its level of sanitation, whether it’s structurally sound and if there are any pests. If he or she finds anything, the business gets a report outlining all the steps it needs to take to reopen.

“Once they complete that list, ,they can call us 24/7 we’ll respond to that and we’ll come out and do a re-inspection. If they have corrected everything that’s on that list, we don’t see any presence of pests, no live, no dead, no dying, then we’ll give them the clearance to go ahead and open,” said Applegate.

In the meantime, pest control experts said businesses should have a monthly pest removal service, more for problem areas.

It’s difficult for customers to see anything wrong, if there is a problem, since most rodents are in the kitchen.

“It basically boils down to as far as what they can see, it’s very difficult because everybody can cover up anything,” said Billy Roark, Senior Technician of Bug Free Pest Control.

“It would take a long time to go back, I would say never go again, but you would have that stigma, you would think about it,” said Larry Whitt.

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