What should I do about a screw in my food?
July 23, 2007 4:56 PM   Subscribe

I found a metal screw in my takeout Chinese food. What should I do?

This is from a restaurant I really like--one of the only authentic Sichuan restaurants in the area. I've never had any problems with their food before, but I just found a screw in the leftovers from the takeout I got yesterday.

I found it by biting down on it, fortunately not hard enough to injure my teeth at all. I spat it out instantly, assuming it was a bone from the chicken used to make the dish, then discovered what it really was. I saved it, still covered in sauce, in a plastic bag, and threw out the rest of the food.

Should I bring it to the restaurant, perhaps with a friend of mine who speaks Mandarin, as the staff there doesn't speak English that well? Are there any authorities I should notify?
posted by cerebus19 to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What are you hoping to accomplish?
posted by box at 5:08 PM on July 23, 2007

Does your city post health inspections online? You might want to take a look. If they have a history of violations, I'd go to the authorities. However, it's possible that they're fairly respectable and that a screw from a piece of equipment fell in. Perhaps from the hood fan or even something in the ceiling. If you're confident they're a good restaurant and you do not have food poisoning, you could take it to the restaurant and negotiate a free meal. You should probably call them anyway, just to let them know, so that they can check their equipment. Depending on how they respond, you should elevate the matter accordingly. (I would not hand over the screw, though.)
posted by acoutu at 5:10 PM on July 23, 2007

i once found a screw in a strawberry pie my grandma made - it came out of a mixer and was an innocent (though certainly not harmless) mistake

i would inform them (via your friend) and leave it at that

if you have eaten there many many times before, and this never happened, then you should be OK!

if they react harshly however, then maybe it's good to never go back
posted by Salvatorparadise at 5:10 PM on July 23, 2007

If it concerned you enough to throw out the food (man, it's not like it's a severed human finger or something), go and tell them you found a screw in your food. They'll probably be apologetic. They might even give you some free lunch. Otherwise, get over it. Screws fall out all the time. The world's an imperfect place.
posted by Jimbob at 5:11 PM on July 23, 2007 [4 favorites]

It's probably a freak occurence. Any "authorities" will treat it that way, unless it's the third screw reported for the place. The management will say, thanks very much, and very sorry. There really isn't much they can do about it.

The question is, do you want their food again, or not? If you do, don't mention it and continue to patronize the place. If not, take your business elsewhere.
posted by beagle at 5:11 PM on July 23, 2007

If you really like the place, then bring it back in and let them know, hoping that they will improve and you won't need to worry eating food from that restaurant. And I would be specific when you talk to them to make it clear that you really like the place and certainly this was just a freak mistake and you'd like reassurance that nothing like this would never happen ever, ever again.

If you don't like the place too much, chalk it up as "never go back" and look elsewhere.
posted by plinth at 5:15 PM on July 23, 2007

I disagree with plinth. Don't take it back. You hope they improve how? Reassure you? Well they didn't put it there on purpose, and they didn't see it fall in and decide not to fish it out because it wasn't worth the effort. There's no improvement to be had except for making the world perfect, like Jimbob says.

By saving it with sauce on it you seem to want us to tell you to sue for a billion dollars. No sane person will tell you to do that - if you want to waste your time trying to ruin some family's restaurant, you better decide to do it yourself. Also, you'll probably fail at it.
posted by putril at 5:19 PM on July 23, 2007

Yeah, I only meant that you should tell the health authorities if the restaurant has a history of major problems and they react in a weird way if you mention the screw. I would definitely mention it to the restaurant, though, as you have no idea whether that screw was serving some important purpose and might lead to something falling apart (or falling down or whatever).
posted by acoutu at 5:24 PM on July 23, 2007

Best answer: There is some value to returning the screw to the restaurant, as identifying it could help them determine where it came from, and how it got into your food, in the first place. From that, could come equipment modifications to prevent future occurrences. It's even possible that the screw did not come from their premises, but made it into your food from bulk goods bought from another supplier (many Chinese restaurants use pre-battered chicken, bulk vegetable mix, etc.). Identifying it is the first step to whatever remedial actions would be appropriate, and a good kitchen manager will understand that, and take appropriate steps.
posted by paulsc at 5:31 PM on July 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

What did you order?
posted by iamkimiam at 5:50 PM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

paulsc is right. let them know--it'll make the food better the next time you order it.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:12 PM on July 23, 2007

Could you show us a picture of the screw?
posted by davey_darling at 6:27 PM on July 23, 2007

I'm glad to hear others have found hardware in their food. My husband and I were in some small Utah town on vacation years ago and went to Arby's -- one of only 2 or 3 places to eat. Husband got roast beef and cheese sandwich AND a wingnut. Thank God he didn't bite down hard. We went up to the blond children running the Arby's and showed 'em the wingnut, saying we'd like a refund or a sandwich without hardware. They looked at us like we were aliens trying to screw 'em, said, "What's a wingnut?" and "How did that get in your sandwich?" and refused reimbursement OR a sandwich. We don't do Arby's ever -- in Utah or anywhere else. (Yes, we wrote to corporate and never got a response.)
posted by Smalltown Girl at 8:57 PM on July 23, 2007

i found staples in a pizza once. i quietly informed the manager, who gave me a free pizza, and made my food personally from that point on (the kitchen was visible from the dining room).

he appreciated the fact that i understood that it was a freak occurrence, and didn't make a scene in front of the other diners. he dealt with his staff appropriately and kept his customer.
posted by klanawa at 9:28 PM on July 23, 2007

Bring back the screw... They might need it to fix whatever it came out of. If you have a friend who speaks the language, by all means bring them.

It probably was a freak accident, and they’ll probably take note and hope nothing else breaks. I’d say order their food again too, and don’t sweat it.
posted by Phalene at 9:44 PM on July 23, 2007

Please update this thread to know how it goes!
posted by chlorus at 10:43 PM on July 23, 2007

This happened to me at my fav local Chinese restaurant. It was the first sign of the decline in quality and after a few more visits I never went back. If you think they are still good, return the screw and ask for an explanation. Otherwise, start looking around.
posted by caddis at 12:19 AM on July 24, 2007

Put it this way: There aren't many human pathogens that can set up shop on a chunk of metal. There are a lot more that kick around on strawberries and grapes, and a quick rinse under the tap is not really going to do the job. Do you eat fruit?

Intuition says AUGHH A SCREW IN MY DIN-DIN, but intuition doesn't know jack about real relative risk levels. Bring back the screw in case it came outta Hobart the Mixer, and continue to eat there as long as the food's tasty and doesn't give you the squirts.

Disclaimer: This advice is coming from a guy whose food-handler's license is expired. Also a guy who only last weekend spit a pebble out of a bite of salsa at a Mexican place and just kept eating, and who probably has a psychological motive for telling the world, as authoritatively as possible, that foreign objects in food are A-OK. Take it with salt. Rock salt, of course.
posted by eritain at 2:55 AM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

You should report it, either to the restaurant or food hygiene, so that any pattern of incidents can be spotted. It shouldn't get anyone in trouble (unless a pattern does emerge.)
posted by Luddite at 3:01 AM on July 24, 2007

forget about it... too many unknowns to establish responsibility....

Now... the stuff in food story...

Traveling with a couple of friends, spring break trip to Florida...we were from the north and somewhere deep in Georgia.

Stopped for breakfast along I75 (Green Frog Restaurant, Valdosta?)

My smart ass friend gets his food, looks and sees an insect on top of his fried egg.. Calls the cute waitress with a southern accent over to let her know...

"there's a fly in my egg.." he says..

She looks carefully, looks at him in the sweetest way and says "That's not a fly, honey, it doesn't have any wings." And walks away..

He sat there like an idiot and we couldn't stop laughing until we hit the Florida state line.
posted by HuronBob at 6:10 AM on July 24, 2007

« Older How to cut the perceived apron strings   |   Decision: Train vs. Car hire in the UK. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.