Responding to a barrage of inquiries about sanitary conditions at Mimi's Cafe in Columbia, the Howard County Health Department on Wednesday inspected the restaurant and gave it passing marks.
Lisa M. de Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the health department, said that the food-safety division routinely responds to complaints or tips from the public. In this instance, the department received about 15 emails regarding the restaurant in less than 24 hours, which is highly unusual, de Hernandez said.
The inspection Wednesday "found nothing critical that would endanger the public or cause us to close the restaurant," de Hernandez said. The full inspector's report is expected to be released tomorrow.
On Tuesday, undated photographs purporting to reveal unsanitary conditions in the kitchen and work areas at Mimi's were posted to the social news and entertainment site Reddit.
The original poster of the photographs, who has not been identified, later said on Reddit that the photographs were not recent. But the post, which was "upvoted" by Reddit users on to the site's front page, was widely seen.
Mimi's Cafe, which is part of a national chain whose headquarters are in Irvine, Calif., was most recently inspected in May 2013, which showed "nothing out of the ordinary," according to de Hernandez.
On Tuesday, the corporate headquarters of Mimi's Cafe released this statement: "Mimi's Cafe takes food safety and sanitation very seriously and is committed to providing a safe dining experience to all of our guests. At this time, we cannot verify the accuracy of the photos, or whether they were taken at one of our restaurants, but we are investigating the matter. Our guests can be assured that our food is safe and of the highest quality and that should any problem arise, Mimi's Cafe will take immediate action to resolve it."
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the restaurant said that the company had no further updates to Tuesday's statement.