Every Thursday at 11, we go inside restaurants to show you their critical violations on health inspections. We discovered a VCU professor uses the NBC12 Restaurant Report as part of a lecture in his class. So we sat in on the class.
When Dr. Walter Griggs isn't collecting moose in his office at VCU, he likes to watch the NBC12 Restaurant Report.
"Like last night, somebody spit into the sink. That's not good!" he recalled.
But believe it or not, gross violations like that actually inspired him.
"What I've done is take the Restaurant Reports," said Griggs, "and found cases where things are even more gross."
In his class on business law, he not only cites examples of health violations from the NBC12 Restaurant Report, he looks up lawsuits over unsafe food in restaurants from across the country.
Said Griggs, demonstrating with a stuffed mouse, "Sometimes a little mouse will play around and then jump into the soup to swim, and then he drowns. And then later on, you order broccoli soup, and this thing pops up in your face."
Most of his lawsuit examples are from other states, but some happened in Virginia. "There was a turkey head in french fries down in Newport News. There was a raccoon paw in a college soup," he said.
Though, fortunately, he says most local restaurants are much cleaner. He teaches his classes the difference between finding something that doesn't belong in food, like a frog found in some cabbage, and fake claims. Who could forget the California woman who went to prison for putting a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili to try to extort money from the restaurant chain?
"Student like reports like the Restaurant Report because they can identify with them. They go out to eat, so they like to find out what's going on in the kitchen," he told us.
Griggs says students not only learn about case law, but why restaurant inspections are, well, critical.