Chinatown restaurants learn how to get an 'A'
Updated: 2013-10-25 10:05
By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily USA)
Lubarsky said thermometers used to test the temperature of food are easy targets for health inspectors. Not using a thermometer correctly, or at all, will set the restaurant back eight points. Kitchens are also supposed to keep sanitation buckets to wipe off counters, and if a rag is found left outside the bucket, that's five points.
"That's 13 points," Lubarsky said, adding up the two common violations he has seen in Chinatown restaurants. "One more mistake, any mistake, and you're done."
A dirty apron, you ask? Five points.
"It's very important not to try to remember what to do, but to understand why you're doing it, so that you're always doing it correctly," Lubarsky said.
Common violations Lubarsky said he hass seen on mock inspection visits to Chinatown restaurants also include pest-breeding food debris on the floor, condensation in pipes that cause water contamination, lack of hair restraints, the use of damaged food cans, exposed holes in ceilings and walls, and lack of or improper use of hand-wash sinks.
"Every food prep area has to have hand-wash sinks 25 feet from the food prep area," Lubarsky said. "People brush their teeth in it. This is not okay. Hand-wash sinks are for hand washing only. It's not a place to set a cup or a spoon. It's just to hand-wash."
And don't get Lubarsky started on improper glove use.
"You have to change your gloves when they rip, you have to change your gloves when you sneeze in them — people do that, believe it or not," Lubarsky said and drew some laughs. "When you handle money, when you go to the bathroom, you have to change your gloves. It sounds silly, but we see that all the time."
Chinatown restaurants often run into trouble with their duck and rice products, such as one Peking duck restaurant that was told that it could no longer serve the fowl at the tableside, which it had done for decades, according to the BID.
Lubarsky said he heard a story from a man this week, who has run the same restaurant for six years, but still received 38 points in his most recent health inspection. One of the violations was that his rice pots were too big and could not fit into the sink to wash.
"He has two options," Lubarsky said. "Get a bigger sink, but then he'd have to move because there's no room for a bigger sink. Or he could get smaller pots, but the that means he has to cook all day."
That man now has $3,420 in fines and a ''C'' on his window. For just a couple hundred of dollars prior to the inspection, Lubarky said the man could have consulted with Letter Grade Consulting and saved himself from this trouble.
"The message we want to get across today is — yes, Chinatown is an ethnic community; yes, it's densely populated; yes, many food establishments are in extremely old structures; yes, there are problems, but we as a community have made a commitment," Tarnovsky said. "We as a community are taking steps to be proactive and we are ready for our inspections."
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