Cockroach-ridden floors, "critical cleaning risk" and pest infestations - these are all some of the filthy finds at Auckland eateries this year.
Auckland Council officers have identified 18 food joints marked as needing improvements because of poor food handling practices, pest control issues and unsatisfactory cleaning, among other issues.
Many of the eateries have since fixed their problems and been reissued with new grades.
In inspections between March and May, officials gave seven places around the city an E grade, which deemed them to be a "critical risk", and to close until issues were fixed.
These were Ghazal Indian Cuisine in Glen Eden, The Café Helensville, Sui Yuan in Mt Albert, Dosa Plaza Metro City, Baab Korean Restaurant in Auckland Central, Dosa Plaza Mt Roskill, and India Bar and Restaurant in Ellerslie.
The Herald attempted to contact all seven E-graded restaurants by phone.
Dosa Plaza Metro City in Auckland CBD received an E grade because of cockroaches found in the restaurant, owner Theo Namah said. But the shop had quickly fixed the problem and been reissued with an A grade, which has been sighted by the Herald.
"Being part of a foodcourt there are other outlets that have had a similar issue which we highlighted to the landlord and management of Metro Cinemas."
"We are glad to inform that with a lot of hard work and just in the matter of three weeks we have rectified all issues including the one of a rogue cockroach incident which was really rare previously," he said.
An employee at India Bar and Restaurant said they had reopened after addressing the issues and had a new grading pending from Auckland Council.
A spokeswoman at Dosa Plaza Mt Roskill also said they had done the required work and had been allowed to reopen, with a new grading pending.
Auckland Council team leader food safety and health enforcement Alan Ahmu said those eateries that had been graded an E had to prove to officers the risk had been remedied.
After that they could reopen, but needed to display the E grading publicly for at least four weeks, until they received a new grading.
Another 11 food establishments received a D grade. Those could stay open for business while they addressed the reason for the poor rating and would be inspected again within two months of the grading.
Photos of some of what inspectors faced show scum-ridden tabletops and floors in food preparation areas, cockroach-infested floors and mould and grease on walls and counters.
Ahmu said the most common reasons for needing to close establishments were poor cleaning and pest control in food preparation areas, leading to a high risk of cross contamination.
"In some places we saw cockroaches clearly visible throughout the food preparation areas, so they have clearly lost control of the problem."
This year's number of poor grades appeared to show a marked difference from last year, when between January and May, a total of 28 places around the city received an E grade, and 42 a D.
Ahmu said the lower numbers this year were down to a number of factors, including changing over to the Food Safety Act, which meant some eateries not solely based in Auckland could choose to be verified under the Ministry for Primary Industries.
There was also a change in focus under the act from solely inspecting the premises to verifying processes and procedures, such as cleaning schedules and labelling.
Before the new regulations came into force, council officers spent time explaining them to establishments, which Ahmu said could also be behind improved numbers.
When an eatery was inspected depended on how it had performed in the past, and if there was a complaint.
The verification process saw those with the lowest grades checked as often as once every three months, while those with consistently high grades could be checked once every 18 months, Ahmu said.
E grade (Inspected between March - May, up to date May 24)
- Ghazal Indian Cuisine, Glen Eden, inspected 19/03/2019: Critical risk cleaning, restricted water supply
- The Café Helensville, inspected 24/04/2019 : Critical risk defective drainage
- Sui Yuan, Mt Albert, inspected 26/04/2019: Critical risk cleaning
- Dosa Plaza Metro City, inspected 30/04/2019: Critical risk cleaning, pest infestation. Since awarded A grade after dealing with issues.
- Baab Korean Restaurant, inspected 6/05/2019: Critical risk cleaning, pest infestation
- Dosa Plaza, Mt Roskill, inspected 8/05/2019 (new grading pending): Critical risk cleaning
- India Bar and Restaurant, Ellerslie, inspected 9/05/2019 (new grading pending): Critical risk cleaning, pest infestation
D grades (Inspected between March - May, up to date May 24)
- The Falls Restaurant and Cafe, Henderson, inspected 16/04/2019: Cleaning issues, allergen management
- Sushi Factory Japanese Restaurant, Auckland Central, inspected 26/04/2019: Cleaning issues, pest issues
- The Grill - Wairau Valley, inspected 26/04/2019: Cleaning issues, pest issues
- Indigo Takeaway, Avondale, inspected 1/05/2019: Cleaning issues
- Curry Masala, Flatbush, inspected 2/05/2019: Pest issues
- Feriza's, Auckland Central, inspected 2/05/2019: Cleaning issues, pest issues. Since restored to A grade on May 31.
- Matsu Sushi, Auckland Central, inspected 6/05/2019: Cleaning issues, pest issues
- Homecooked, Wairau Valley, inspected 10/05/2019: Cleaning issues
- Rabbit Café, Eden Terrace, inspected 10/05/2019: Not following plan, temperature control
- Tai Ping Supermarket - Pakuranga, inspected 16/05/2019: Labelling issues
- Yu Linh Long Factory / Mr. Big Pan, Panmure, inspected 20/05/2019: Cleaning issues
Information provided by Auckland Council on May 24