Mark Richardson questions why people have 'a problem' with cockroaches

Cockroaches aren't making anyone "ill or sick", according to Mark Richardson, who questioned why the critters are considered so "dirty".

When discussing Auckland Council's food grading system for the city's restaurants and cafes, The AM Show host Duncan Garner revealed what earns eateries the dreaded 'E-grade' rating.

"I'll tell you what gets you an E-grade... It's been undesirable for 90 days, the place should close immediately, there are critical risks like pest infestation, absolutely filthy kitchens and cockroaches and things," he said.

"I notice there's not one eatery in the North Shore that comes up as being 'dodge', well done North Shore... it's all around my area, west Auckland."

Co-host Richardson couldn't understand why a cockroach infestation should be worthy of an E-rating, the lowest grade that can be assigned to an eatery. 

"I don't know what people's problem is with cockroaches, because I imagine that's the pest infestation. I don't think they're making anyone ill or sick," he said.

"Everytime I take the cover off my barbecue, off will go a family of cockroaches scuttling in different directions... nobody's been sick at our barbecues."

Amanda Gillies couldn't understand Richardson's sympathy for the "dirty little critters".

"I can handle rats, snakes, anything... but I absolutely can't handle cockroaches," she chipped in. 

On a grading scale from A to E, an E-grade indicates "enforcement action" has been taken and the eatery will be closed due to "critical" food safety concerns. A D-grade indicates the business has taken action regarding issues that are "likely to result in food being unsafe".

So are cockroaches 'dirty'?

According to local biosecurity and public health business Southern Monitoring Services (SMS), New Zealand's 16 species of native bush cockroaches are of no public health concern as they typically live outdoors.

"Although cockroaches are not usually associated with widespread disease outbreaks, their presence is a sign of poor sanitation procedures and they are known to carry a number of bacteria, which could give rise to serious illness in humans," says its website.

"They may also induce allergies and asthma symptoms in susceptible people. Cockroaches are a serious sanitary concern for humans."

Cockroaches are also known to carry a number of organisms including salmonella and E. coli. SMS notes they will move between food sources, such as faecal matter and fresh food, exposing humans to potentially dangerous pathogens.

Richardson also offered some advice to hungry people in desperate need of a pick-me-up.

"If you're hungry and they have a low grade - they'll probably hide it - just don't order anything with chicken. You'll be fine with everything else."

You can visit the Auckland Council website to see if your local is "a bit dodge".