A Florida Restaurant Failed Its Health Inspection for Storing a Dead Iguana in Freezer


For most of us, restaurant cleanliness basically boils down to a letter grade that indicates whether or not dining at a certain establishment is a good idea. Behind the scenes, that grade is determined by a pretty comprehensive health inspection with criteria that can sometimes seem draconian. Any restaurateur will tell you that earning an A rating requires much more than simply wiping down counters every now and then. 

Still, even the most laissez-faire gourmand would agree that storing a dead iguana weighing 80 pounds in one of your restaurants probably calls for a failed health inspection.

That’s not an oddly specific hypothetical, but one of many reasons a West Palm Beach pizza joint ran afoul of Florida health inspectors. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Pizza Mambo had to close for a day earlier this month after racking up an impressive 27 health code violations (including 10 “high-priority” offenses) after a visit from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

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While 26 of them were pretty run-of-the-mill reasons a restaurant might fail a health inspection (including rat droppings and dead roaches), the discovery of a dead iguana weighing as much as a 10-year-old child in a freezer probably wasn’t something state inspectors were used to seeing every day—even in Florida.

Thankfully, Pizza Mambo had no plans to serve the iguana to customers. However, the Sun Sentinel reports that it was gifted to the owner with the intent to be eaten, as eating iguana isn’t unheard of down in South Florida.

Pizza Mambo’s owner immediately threw away the offending reptile without complaint once informed that storing a dead iguana on-site was a (flagrant, obvious) health violation, so there’s that. With Covid-19 cases spiking again, I’d say Florida restaurants already have their hands full without getting any reptiles in the mix. But if you really, really do need to keep a dead iguana somewhere, store it at home. Work-life balance is important, even in times like these. 

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