Food Safety Scam Uncovered in SF

City officials are not commenting on whether more than two inspectors were involved in the scam.

By Ayesha Minhaj
|  Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011  |  Updated 2:47 PM PDT
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Managers have to pass a food safety test to be certified to run restaurants.

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San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced a major bribery bust involving food safety inspectors. The inspectors are accused of passing food safety ratings to hundreds of restaurants managers who gave them bribes.

The District Attorney held a news conference this morning, assuring the public that despite the large number of managers involved, there was never any threat to the safety of food.

Gascon said two food inspectors allowed restaurant managers to get out of taking mandatory food safety exams in exchange for money, ranging between $100 to $200.

“The defendants used their inspection authority to solicit bribes from local restaurants, showing complete disregard for state laws and public trust,” said Gascon. “This case is a good example of city departments working together to ensure public corruption will not be tolerated in San Francisco.”

The exam is supposed to include basic food safety questions, such as what temperatures certain foods should be kept, or how long meats should be cooked in order to kill bacteria. About 20-percent of managers fail the exam, and are not given certification.

No managers are being charged in the case. "They were misled to some extent by the inspectors," says Gascon.

Both food inspectors are facing felony charges. Ajuma Stewart faces 9 years in prison and Clifton Sanders faces 8 years in prison. Both are being fined $10,000.

The allegations were uncovered two years ago, and both employees were moved to desk positions while the investigation continued. They have since been fired.

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