Dirty Dining: Inspectors find live mouse, 2 dead mice & 25 gallons of food at unsafe temperatures

It's rare that we read about a live mouse in a restaurant inspection report but inspectors found that along with two dead mice and rodent droppings in the kitchen and over 25 gallons of food at temperatures that could make customers sick.

Ella Khan is visiting the bay area from New Jersey and just about to try out a local Vietnamese restaurant.

"You've never eaten here?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.

"Never eaten in this restaurant," Ella mentioned, as she stood outside.

"They were shut down two weeks ago for having a live mouse in the kitchen," Ryan informed her.

Ella looked shocked at the news and so did her family as they screamed in disbelief.

And it might have been shocking for Mekong Oriental Restaurant too. The Vietnamese eatery located on North 34th Street in St. Petersburg had to close down for over 24 hours in July, not only for that live mouse but for two more dead mice that inspectors discovered and over 40 rodent droppings in the kitchen.

So Ryan went inside to get some answers.

"What are you doing about the rodent problem? Did you get some new traps?" Ryan asked Mekong's owner Thuoc Do.

"I call and pest control take care for me," Do explained.
And Do claims he wasn't aware the rodent issue was that serious.

"You didn't realize that the problem was that bad? You didn't know?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah," he admitted.

Inspectors were so concerned about food they found at dangerous temperatures, they ordered Mekong to throw out 17 different items including 21 sticks of butter, ten gallons of soup, four gallons of cooked beef and vegetables, and half a case of raw shell eggs. The list also included various amounts of cooked chicken, fish, sliced beef, spring rolls, rice, tofu, cooked pork at temperatures that could make customers sick!

Do says after inspectors warned him about the improper temperatures, he bought a new two-door cooler and a new walk-in cooler.

But as Ryan and her photographer walked around the kitchen, they noticed other repeat violations in that July inspection still needed to be corrected.

That included food uncovered in the cooler, food sitting out at room temperature, and food debris and heavy grease accumulated on several pieces of cooking equipment.

And problems existed in October of last year too with the state ordering another long list of food items to be destroyed due to hazardous temperatures. On October 2, 2013, that stop sale was also 17 items long and included beef, shrimp, seafood sausage, fish sausage, and various vegetables. The state also documented evidence of rodents and roaches at that time.

Still despite all we saw and the 124 violations written up by inspectors over the last ten months, Do claims his place is safe.

"I clean every day," Do said.

But Ella is not convinced.

"Are you disappointed?" Ryan asked.

"Yes because the restaurant looked clean and the people looked friendly but you don't know what's behind the closed doors," she answered.