Stephenville locations cited for health code violations
By Logan Allen—
Stephenville is home to over 100 restaurants, and each one, whether it is big, small, family- or cooperatively-owned, is required to undergo health inspections. At least twice a year, the local regulatory authority comes knocking at the business’s door in the form of a health inspector.
Recently, December 2015, the authority regulating the Stephenville area assigned Duane Barritt as the new health inspector. Out of the restaurants Barritt has inspected so far, scores have ranged from near perfect to near closure.
For example, on Feb. 6, Barritt entered China King Buffet to perform a routine inspection. Barritt cited China King Buffet with 43 violations. These violations ranged from a long list of items such as not holding cold and hot food at proper temperatures, not properly cleaning and sanitizing food-contact surfaces and utensils, containing evidence of insect or rodent contamination, not providing adequate hand washing facilities and not providing proper physical facilities.
“All violations must be corrected… or (the) restaurant will be closed,” Barritt said in the conclusion of the health inspection report. Due to the failing score, a second inspection was required and ordered for Feb. 13.
China King Buffet was ordered to clean black mold from the outside of the ice machine, clean dirty walls and ceilings, place time labels, dates and identification on stored food and to separate foods in storage to stop contamination. Also, they were ordered to clean the “filthy” employee restroom and to provide soap and hand towels as well.
In an interview with Kong Liang Li, the owner and manager of China King Buffet, Li said that “all of our food is safe and good.” Li added that “with new laws coming, we need to get better.”
When asked about their failing inspection, Li explained that the low score was due to the restaurant’s equipment.
“Some of our equipment is old and we need to renew it, because this restaurant is over 10 years old,” said Li.
On Feb. 13, when China King Buffet had a return inspection, Barritt cited it again for needing to clean a black substance from an ice machine, not holding food at proper temperatures and needing to sanitize properly. However, the restaurant this time only received 18 violations, for a score of 82, allowing it to stay in business.
“We have got a new chef, new equipment and new wait staff this month. Service is better, and the food is better,” said Li. “Everything is good back there. Food is served safely, and food safety is very strict, important and consistent.”
The Texas Administrative Code outlines the Texas Food Establishment Rules, which provides the health codes restaurants are to follow, compliance information and inspection guidelines. In general, a health inspector assesses food safety, food contamination, proper storage, equipment, foundation and physical facilities.
A restaurant is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 100 points. The restaurant starts out with a 100, and for each violation, a point is deducted. If a food operation receives more than 30 violations, or a score of less than 70, it must be inspected again. After the second inspection, if the operation scores under 70, it will face compliance action and could be forced to close.
Over the past few months, Barritt has been inspecting Stephenville restaurants and enforcing local, state and national requirements for food safety. After analyzing the health reports completed thus far, Domino’s Pizza, Subway on W Washington St, Hook Elementary School and Texas Health Harris Methodist hospital received the highest scores with less than five violations each.
Hook Elementary received a score of 99, Texas Health Harris Methodist hospital and Subway both scored a 96 and Domino’s received a 95. Mi Familia Mexican Restaurant received 11 violations, resulting in a score of 89.
Violations in those operations included items related to structure, such as replacing ceiling tiles, cleaning certain items and properly storing certain products. Mi Familia was cited for having an out-of-date food permit and for not possessing a food manager card.
In contrast, Chili’s Bar and Grill and Golden China were among the lowest scoring restaurants, in addition to China King Buffet. Chili’s scored a 75, and Golden China totaled at 72.
Chili’s’ violations included needing to remove or replace broken equipment, remove molding caulking from a sink, remove a “black substance” from the ice bin, clean dirty tea nozzles and needing to provide soap at hand washing sinks.
Chili’s did not respond to a request for an interview.
Golden China was cited for not providing a valid food establishment permit from the city, needing to clean a “brown substance” from tea nozzles, a “black substance” from a drain in a sink and a “black substance” inside of the ice machine. Several other violations ranged from not using proper utensils, needing to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces, as well as improperly dating and storing food products.
These inspections provide just a glimpse into the operations of a food establishment and do not necessarily dictate how the operation functions every single day. Barritt is still working on completing all of the inspections, and more reports will be available soon.