A Church’s Chicken outlet at 1234 W. Church St. in Orlando, FL, was closed more than any other restaurant in central Florida last year. That Church’s Chicken location was shut down twice due to consumer complaints and a third time during a routine inspection, according to the Aug. 15 Orlando Sentinel. During that visit, the state inspector found 14 live roaches throughout the kitchen, dining areas and back offices, and came across a “mold-like substance” in the ice machines. Church’s Chicken #459 is now on the state’s high priority list, which means it’s been getting more frequent inspections. It was closed again this past June 23 for an insect infestation. However, that troubled Church’s Chicken location is open again after the franchise owner brought in construction crews and pest control experts to remove walls and eliminate the infestation. The newspaper’s analysis of the inspection records at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation found that twice as many central Florida restaurants are being shut down now as there were just five years ago. State inspectors issued 139 emergency shutdown orders to restaurants between July 2014 and June 2015, according to the report. During a similar one-year period five years ago, there were 67 restaurants shut down from July 2010 to June 2011. A similar pattern was reportedly experienced statewide. A spokesman for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation said that a technical fix the state made in early 2014 appears to be responsible for the increased restaurant closures. Prior to that time, the state’s website for consumer restaurant complaints was accessible only to Internet Explorer users. That effectively locked out about 88 percent of all Internet users from accessing the state’s online complaint form. The fix has resulted in a doubling of the number of complaints being filed now versus five years ago. The state says that the public feedback helps inspectors identify restaurants with the most food safety violations. Routine state inspections result in about one in every 270 restaurants getting an emergency shutdown notice, while the closure rate for restaurants that are the subject of consumer complaints is one in 46. About 22 percent of the restaurants subjected to consumer complaints get warnings. About 16 percent of central Florida’s restaurants get warnings during their routine inspections. Also, Florida is doing more frequent inspections on any restaurant that becomes a source of foodborne illnesses or has more frequent violations. Central Florida’s burgeoning tourist economy supports 11,400 food and beverage establishments.
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