Florida Dept. of Business Professional Regulation Response to Chinese Restaurant Emergency Closures

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Does your home refrigerator pass State of Florida safety and sanitation inspections? 

We asked the Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation if it was unfairly targeting Florida and local Asian restaurants during its safety and sanitation inspections this summer and what prompted the inspections.

“Inspections are routine across the board. All public food establishments are inspected based on the risk-based inspection frequency program as well as anytime a complaint is received,” said Chelsea Eagle, DPBR’s Deputy Director of Communications today.

Complaints can come from the public, another agency or inspectors seeing a violation during a visit to a business to trigger an inspection, Eagle explained.

Whether there is a language, communication barrier between the Asian restaurant owner and staff, a restaurant located in an old, deteriorating building, the summer temperatures and rainy weather encouraging bugs and rodents inside or if you’ve never been ill from a restaurant’s food, Eagle said the public’s health and safety are top priorities to protect consumers.

On August 10, 2015, state safety and sanitation inspectors found 29 things that needed to be addressed at House of China on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater, Florida. The high priority violations included unsafe food temperatures for cooked and raw food, raw animal food not properly separated in a walk-in cooler and rodent droppings near the freezer and soda storage area near the cookline in the kitchen. House of China was reinspected on or after August 11, 2015.

On August 11, 2015, state inspectors found 61 things that needed to be corrected at the Oriental Super Buffet on Gulf-To-Bay in Clearwater, Florida. The high priority violations included potentially hazardous time and temperature control of food on the buffet line, raw food stored over ready-to-eat food in the walk-in cooler and employees touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands. Oriental Super Buffet was reinspected on or after August 12, 2015.

On July 20, 2015, state inspectors found 77 things that needed attention at Yummy House Chinese Cuisine Inc. on W. Waters Avenue in Tampa. The high priority violations included a stop sale of potentially hazardous time and temperature control of food due to temperature abuse in its noodle dishes, employees touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands in the kitchen, employees washing hands with no soap and with cold water, live flying insects in the kitchen, food preparation area or food storage area and rodent droppings under a food prep table, on top of a hood, under a dish machine, behind reach in the freezer, around a mixer and under dry storage shelves in the kitchen. Yummy House was reinspected on or after July 21, 2015.

All three restaurants were ordered to close until violations were corrected.

To find out if your favorite restaurants are passing or failing inspections, go to http://www.myfloridalicense.com.

For emergency closures of restaurants in Florida, click on

http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/hr/inspections/EmergencyClosures.html

Here is the letter from the Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation in response to our blog post about emergency closings of popular Chinese restaurants in the Tampa Bay area this summer. The letter explains the procedure, the decision-making involved for closing any restaurant in Florida.

The Division of Hotels and Restaurants adopts the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code, which provides science-based minimum sanitation and safety standards for food handling, storage, preparation and service. In adopting the 2009 FDA Food Code, the division uses a science-based, three-tier category system for food safety and sanitation inspections. The categories include High Priority Violation, which indicates a direct concern related to possible foodborne illnesses; Intermediate Violation references an incident that could contribute to a foodborne illness if not corrected; and, Basic Violation identifies good retail practices. These inspection practices enable the division to better communicate with licensees and the public in a clear and concise manner on the results of an inspection, which are published on the DBPR website at www.myfloridalicense.com and available on the free DBPR Mobile app. Anyone can look up recent inspections of any public food service establishment in the state of Florida from brick and mortar restaurants to food trucks online or by downloading DBPR’s free mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play app stores. This enables consumers to make educated decisions about where to have their next meal, even on the go.

The Division of Hotels and Restaurants licenses and regulates Florida’s public food service establishments for compliance with state safety and sanitation. The safety and sanitation standards remain uniform across the board, whether the establishment is a brick and mortar restaurant or a mobile food truck.

In accordance with industry standards, emergency closures are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants and are dependent upon the specific violations observed by the inspector. While violations such as lack of approved utilities or hot water, sewage backups or overflows, fire damage, pest infestation or inadequate refrigeration may warrant an emergency closure, there are many mitigating and aggravating factors that are considered before an emergency closure is issued. For example, if an infestation is found near food prep or handling areas, that would be an aggravating factor in deciding to issue an emergency closure.

Once the elevated risk is observed, the inspector will note the violation details and contact district management. Management then sends the report to the Director’s Office for review. Ultimately, the decision to issue an emergency closure is made by the Director or their designee and is on average made within 30 minutes. Upon approval to issue the closure, an order is generated and given to the operator and the establishment remains closed until the conditions are corrected.

Regarding your last question, I have attached for you the emergency closure inspection report for Yummy House (license SEA3909799), House of China (license SEA6215391) and Oriental Super Buffet (license SEA6214350) for your review. As you will note on the inspection reports, the reason for the inspection is noted as well as all of the violations observed at the time of the inspection.

Best,

Chelsea Eagle

Deputy Director of Communications

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation

(850) 922-8981

Chelsea.Eagle@myfloridalicense.com

 

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This entry was posted in Consumer News, Dining, Dining, Food, Pinellas County, Tampa and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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