by Doug Powell
For the first time in more than a decade, city health inspectors in Appleton, Wisconsin, ordered a restaurant closed for unsanitary conditions earlier this year.
And it was a China Buffet.
The Post Crescent reports the emergency order was prompted after a contractor who was working at the building discovered “hundreds” of cockroaches and called the city health department, according to documents obtained by the newspaper through a public records request. Inspectors then found that employees weren’t properly washing their hands, raw food was sitting out and the restaurant was in general disrepair.
“We went from zero to 100 on this one,” Appleton Health Officer Kurt Eggebrecht said. “Given it’s the first time we’ve done this in 12 years, it’s very significant. What we base our decisions on is, was there a potential for someone to become ill, and in this case there was.”
Vivian Liu, China Buffet manager, said the restaurant never had sanitation problems during 16 years of operation, and the inspection came at a particularly bad time when a cooler had stopped working.
“Safety is a priority here. It’s always been a clean restaurant, but with the cooler and plumbing problems they came at a bad time,” Liu told The P-C. “We’ve changed many of our procedures and have employees cleaning on a different schedule every day.”
Inspectors dispatched to the restaurant the day the complaint was made in March discovered:
• Raw chicken, eggs and shrimp left overnight at room temperature.
• Temperatures of cooked items such as noodles, milk and cooked chicken in a cooler well above required levels.
• Heavy infestation of cockroaches.
• Excessive grease build-up, dirty food contact surfaces and food without date markings.
The restaurant closed without public notice on March 15, remained closed March 16, and was reopened March 17.
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