If you ever want to eat again, stop reading this now. Or, rather, if you ever want to order Seamless again without thinking about the possibility of your food having been prepared in a random, seedy kitchen, stop reading this now. Because that is a very real possibility.
NBC 4 New York's I-Team investigated 100 of New York's best-rated Seamless and GrubHub restaurants, and found that at least 10 of them were using addresses that didn't appear on the city's restaurant inspection grade database. What is going on?!
NYC Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin explained to NBC that "some people might be illegally operating from their apartment, from their home, and delivering to people in complete contravention to department of health regulation." So your go-to meal might be coming from a private, unregulated kitchen. NBC New York reports on what it found when it tried to track one of these "ghost" restaurants down:
According to a GrubHub ad, "Really Chinese" is located at 235 E 31st Street. But when the I-Team went to that address, there was no restaurant—just a residential brownstone with a sign on the door reading "private residence." And "Really Chinese" has no restaurant permit. The I-Team ordered food and waited for the delivery worker. When he arrived, he said the food had been prepared at a restaurant four blocks away. But that restaurant is called “Abby Chinese. " According to Health Department records, “Abby Chinese” has a B grade, and inspectors have found evidence of rats, roaches or mice at Abby Chinese six times in the last two years.
In this case, "Really Chinese" wasn't operating out of a private home, but instead out of a different restaurant that may or may not be home to rats and roaches. Also bad.
In an emailed statement, GrubHub (which merged with Seamless in 2013) said "we are partnering with New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs to address this issue and remove inaccuracies from our platforms." The company added that it "will take additional steps to verify the details restaurants provide," like "more checks to validate the name and location of restaurants," and encouraged people who think they've been duped to reach out.
Consider this a reminder to figure out how your stove works, and that Grade B restaurants are probably dirtier than you think.
(h/t Tech Insider)
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.