From the Canton Citizen Jan 17, 2008
Grand Buffet Forced To Close
by Jay Tencoat Citizen Staff
Citing multiple health code violations, town inspectors shut down operations at the Grand Buffet restaurant located in the Tri-town Plaza. After the Canton Health Department received numerous complaints concerning the establishment, inspectors visited the restaurant last week and after finding numerous violations, the inspectors ordered the closing of the restaurant.
“By law we are required to inspect every restaurant and food establishment on an annual basis, however if we receive multiple complaints, we may perform a random inspection.” said Town health inspector, Joe Fredatino. ”Many food establishments may have infractions but they are usually minor and are due to the owner being unaware of a regulation.”
An example of a minor violation would be improper posting of a notice.
After receiving a call from an area hospital reporting an increase in food sickness incidents by patrons of the Grand Buffet, health inspectors gave a surprise visit to the restaurant.
On December 14th, Fredatino, along with assistant health inspector Rudy Fitzgerald, went to the Grand Buffet and were immediately shocked by what they found.
In addition to old rodent traps, a broken rear door and boxes of poultry sitting out on the rear loading dock, inspectors found 4 other violations before they entered the building.
“I almost fell over when we saw that the boxes of chicken left out on the loading dock,” Rudy said, “And there were ferile cats eating from one of the boxes.”
Upon entering the rear kitchen, owner Jimmy Chan-zu, confronted the two and demanded that they leave. “We told him that we weren’t leaving,” said Fitzgerald ”so I called Canton Police and they sent an officer down to escort us through the building.”
Under the protection of police, the team proceeded with the inspection. “The general condition of the kitchen and storage was horrific.” said Fitzgerald, “ I have never seen anything so filthy. There were roaches everywhere. We couldn’t write fast enough to get all the violations entered in the report.”
“The food preparation areas were the worst I ever seen,” commented Fredatino, “We found rodent droppings all over the place, even in the cooking pots. That’s when we ordered them closed. People can get extremely sick from consuming even the smallest amount of rodent feces.”
Other violations included improper bare-hand contact, unclean food contact surfaces, improper utensil sanitation (no sanitizer used), improper hot-hold temperatures (buffet foods temperatures not sufficient), improper hot-hold food procedures (hot-hold foods re-used), improper meat storage temperatures (refrigerator not working) improper labeling of ingredients, purchase of un-live shellfish (un-live lobsters), improper training of management staff, improper posting of signage, smoking in a food establishment, among many others. Fredatino also noted that the sprinkler system was being used to supply the kitchen with their water needs.
“Employees said that the main water pipe was shut off after it froze and burst last winter so they shut off the sprinkler system to the main dining area and tapped into it. That water is not fit for human consumption.” Noted Fredatino.
“We found 37 health code violations before we shut them down. I’m sure there are more. We will return with state inspectors and inspectors from the U.S.D.A. next week to go over the whole place, including testing for food borne pathogens.”
Criminal charges are likely to be brought against the owner.
State Fire Marshals are scheduled to inspect the premises next week looking for additional fire code violations.
During the inspection four employees were detained after police could not determine the legal status of some of the employees.
“A lot of these guys get smuggled over from China and then they’re forced to work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week until they pay off their debts to the smugglers. They don’t speak any English and they’re afraid of getting caught and returned to China, so they’re treated like slaves.” said John Carroll with the Canton Police, “They’re called “chey-su” or yellow slaves. It takes some of them 10 or 12 years to pay off their debt.” said Carroll. The Department of Immigration would not comment on weather or not charges would be brought against the owner but did say that they were looking in to the matter.
In the last 6 months of operation, the town received 27 complaints against the China Buffet restaurant. That is well above the average that we would receive for a restaurant of this size. According to town officials a 200-seat restaurant would normally receive 5-7 complaints during a 6-month period.Under state law, Grand Buffet, LTD has 1 week to appeal any and/or all charges.