Restaurant Check

9 years 6 months 1 week ago March 22, 2007 Mar 22, 2007 Thursday, March 22 2007 Thursday, March 22, 2007 2:12:44 PM CDT in News

KOMU analyzed data from the Columbia-Boone County Health Department for inspections up until the last week of February.

Xudong Liu owns the newly opened China Garden restaurant on Clark Lane in Columbia. "It's kind of new ambitions here,"he said. It's his first restaurant, but it's off to a rough start. Its second inspection found 9 critical code violations.

Among the violations: Food not covered properly, not dated correctly and employee beverages were near food preparation areas. Since then, the restaurant has corrected all of the problems. The restaurant says the high number of violations can be attributed to employees that are no longer with the restaurant.

"When we hired them, sometimes they didn't tell me all the truth. Sometimes they'd pretend they were so experienced," said China Garden's Raymond Wang. Some even went as far as to counterfeit their food handlers' safety card.

Many of the customers at the 24-hour Midway Truck Stop restaurant are just passing through. Few probably know about its 9 critical code violations that included: Food stored at the wrong temperature, a cook that didn't wash after handling raw eggs, and mouse feces found along a wall in a storage area. The restaurant declined to comment.

Two others that made our top five offenders list tied with 6 violations. One wasn't even a restaurant...La Acapulquena is a Mexican grocery store. There an inspector found: A meat slicer, cutting board, meat grinder, and meat saw all left unclean. The manager of the store told us the problems were corrected within 30 minutes and the issues originated from being short-staffed.

Elsewhere, at Loon Sheng on Paris Road, some of the the problems were pretty graphic. The restaurant had eight violations including different "stages of roaches," "clean" dishes dirty to sight and touch," and food found stored at the wrong temperature.

"[It's] pretty critical. Temperature controls, you know keeping hot food, hot; cold food, cold -- there's a range of temperatures that things are allowed to be in for a certain amount of time, bacteria and all of the things that can make you sick grow. They have an ideal range of temperature for growing in," said Columbia-Boone County Health Department Director Stephanie Browning. And if the restaurant gets enough violations? "We have the ability, if there are problems, to close them immediately until they correct those problems," she said.

The menu at Show-Me's touts it as a Florida beach restaurant, complete with crawfish tails, shrimp and crabcakes. What it doesn't boast are the 10 critical code violations that got the restaurant shut down in December. Among them: Oysters found uncovered, undated in what an inspector called a "putrid water mix." Show-Me's management declined to comment.

Similar to China Garden having just opened, Show-Me's was under new management when the inspectors showed up, which some believe can make the difference in an inspection.

"You think things would have been different had you been here? Yeah, they would be different," said

It is important to note in the Show-Me's case, a recent inspection found only 2 critical code violations ... Far better than the 10 it received before. Inspectors haven't been back to the others yet. And Health Director Browning says while any violation is serious, it's not uncommon for restaurants to have a couple violations. And she admits each inspection is only a snapshot of that particular moment in time. Often it is those that are newly opened or under new management that have problems.

But Browning says to remain open, restaurants have to rectify the situation pretty quickly.

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