(Editor’s note: It must have taken a lot of courage to run this story even in 1953 in the face of local restaurant owners. Maybe they didn’t advertise, but even so? Very few newspapers, small or otherwise, would publish it today. And I can’t imagine a bureaucrat issuing the info. The local health officials in Malheur County no doubt were worried --- and with polio on the march, they had good reason to be.)
Taken from a story in the July 2, 1953 edition of The Argus-Observer
Malheur County health department officials discovered that customer patrons need not worry about drinking a cup of coffee in a Vale restaurant. But they should have made their own coffee in Nyssa. And going out for it could have been taking a chance in Ontario.
And in Ontario, restaurant patrons were warned that using a drinking glass could be quite dangerous.
The county health department officials conducted a round of recent inspections and found that the average coffee cup in Nyssa restaurants had a bacteria colony count of 311. Anything over 100 was considered unsatisfactory. The average count in Ontario restaurants was 86. In Vale’s restaurants it was 45.
The average bacteria colony count for water glass in Ontario establishments was found to be 634. In Nyssa the count on the average glass was 105. In Vale, just 12.
The county named six restaurants or lunch counters that seemed safe all counts because they scored a count of less than 10 in each category where eating ware was tested. The six:
The Dinette and the Holy Rosary Hospital in Ontario.
The Cue and Vale Drug in Vale.
Carl’s Doll House and the Nyssa Pharmacy in Nyssa.
As bad as things were in some restaurants, they were better than the results turned up during a similar round of inspections three years earlier, The Argus-Observer noted.
“According to the reports anybody who ate in any of the three towns three years ago should have dropped dead before he got out of the place,” the newspaper said.