Click the document links above to view the inspections report
Two dead mice, raw meat touching prepared food and several reports of moldy ice machines. These are some of the findings from Oneida County restaurant health inspections from the last two years.
The owner of Holiday Acres resort in Rhinelander let us into his kitchen where he says the food is fresh, innovative and current. "Our chef is very creative with the new ideas somebody that studies all the cookbooks and magazines,” says Kim Zambon.
But that wouldn't mean much if the food wasn't safe.
"It's very important that everyone, not just the chef but everyone that works in the kitchen be educated in proper techniques of food handling,” he says.
Holiday Acres is one of many that undergoes yearly health inspections. Inspectors find a broad range of violations throughout the county- from simple fixes like putting up a hand washing sign to truly unappetizing discoveries, like mouse droppings.
"You can usually identify some areas where there could be some improvement in the facility," explains Todd Troskey, a registered sanitarian.
He says it doesn't take much to spread a food borne illness, that's why keeping safe temperatures, not cross-contaminating food, and lots of hand washing are imperative to any operation.
"Over the years the food code has expanded and business owners have had to keep up. Things like date marking which used to be a burden are now second nature."
"Once you become comfortable with it and learn about it and you see why it's important then it becomes doable," he says.
We took a look at dozens of health inspection reports from Oneida County's busiest restaurants. From 2011 and 2012.
We found a variety of violations. The most in 2011 from the Claridge Motor Inn with 12 violations, including having a rusty cooler floor and not having a service sink.
Other big violators were the Rhinelander Country Club with 10 - including food that wasn't date marked. Oneida Village in Three Lakes also had 10- including an unprotected food storage area. Pizza Haven in Rhinelander was written up for not having soap at their hand washing sink and had a total of eight violations. And Bucketheads was told they must clean their ice machine which was moldy, one of seven violations.
More recently, in 2012 the Rhinelander Cafe and Pub had the most marks with eight; including another case of a moldy ice machine.
Oneida Village had seven, including the discovery of mouse droppings and outdated food in the cooler.
Arby's in Rhinelander dealt with seven violations including not sanitizing a thermometer between uses and Claridge Motor Inn had seven marks being written up again for not having a service sink.
Mama's Bella Vista in Minocqua had five violations in 2012, but perhaps the most cringe worthy among local restaurants- an inspector found two dead mice on the lower-level floor, next to the ice machine.
Many of the violations that were found at all of the locations were able to be corrected on the spot.
"If they get a dead rodent obviously it has to be removed immediately, that area needs to be cleaned and then they need to be able to monitor that area frequently,” says Troskey.
But it wasn't all bad news.. some restaurants had zero violations in 2012. Including Arby's in Minocqua, Taco John's in Rhinelander, Shady Restaurant & Lodge, Lynn's Catering, and Mulligans.
The year before McDonald's on South Stevens Street in Rhinelander had a perfect report, as did Taco Bell in Rhinelander. As for Holiday Acres; they racked up three violations last year.
"We've never had a major violation although there's times when you miss the mark that's what the inspection process is all about, it helps you do a better job,” says Kim Zambon.
That way his chef can continue to perfect culinary creations in the kitchen.
Last November, NewsChannel 7 took a look at the inspections of the Marathon County restaurants with the highest revenue. Click here to view that story.