health dept

Warning: spontaneous combustion ahead. From Blind Pig Bistro.

Was it Matt Dillon who wrote the first smartassy one at the original Sitka and Spruce? That just seems right, though the proof has long since been erased from those old blackboard menus.

They’re all over the place now, of course: sarcastic tweaks of the Health Department–mandated warning that in its straight-faced form goes something like this: The King County Department of Health would like to inform you that consuming raw or undercooked foods may contribute to your risk of foodborne illness.

At first it was funny just to have the ante upped, as in this warning from Staple and Fancy: The King County Department of Health would like to inform you that consuming raw or undercooked foods may indeed kill you.

I noticed that soon after Madison Park Conservatory opened, death was likewise invoked. By midsummer, the Gothic tone had subsided to this: Check yourself: Eating raw or undercooked foods may make one sick.

My colleague Allecia Vermillion last year reported on one from Anchovies and Olives: The King County Department of Health would like to inform you that consuming raw or undercooked foods may contribute to your risk of foodborne illness. The chef would like to inform you that overcooking fresh seafood is a crying shame.

Take that, Health Department: You’re not only alarmist, you’re the enemy of fine cuisine. In a similar vein from Altura, penned with admirable brevity: Food not overcooked may be hazardous.

The Health Department has even been cast as the enemy of health. Recently spied at the soon-to-open Juice Box in Capitol Hill’s Farmer’s Market: The Health Department would like you to know that fresh vegetables might kill you.

These days we seem to be trending away from the dire and/or political, with sprightly bits of madcap nonsense. Recently spied at Blind Pig Bistro: King County says these items may cause spontaneous combustion. Fun!

Or this from Manhattan Drugs, which may be my all-time favorite: Eating raw or uncooked foods may kill you…as could an M–16 wielding ram.

You’ll get it the minute you walk in the door.