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Additional details are available regarding the recent health department shutdown and reopening of a local Chinese restaurant, including that live ducks were being slaughtered on restaurant property.
The North Central Health District shut down Legends Chinese restaurant — located in Settler’s Center Shopping Center — on Aug. 28 following a complaint from a neighboring business that live ducks were caged behind the restaurant.
The Spencer Magnet obtained the inspection reports filed by the NCHD, which detail the initial closing, findings and what restaurant owner Jenny Sun was required to do to bring her restaurant up to code. The NCHD permitted Legends to reopen Aug. 30 and the restaurant has been operational since.
According to the documents, Spencer County Health Department Environmentalist Jenilee Kenyon received the initial complaint and investigated Aug. 28. She confirmed that five ducks and two chickens were caged behind the restaurant. According to the report, “The complaintant expressed concern because there were originally eight ducks in the pen at 1:30 p.m.”
Kenyon wrote in the report she inspected Legends that afternoon and questioned Sun about the ducks. According to the report, Sun told the inspector that the ducks were for Chinese New Year and that there were no missing ducks.
“I informed her that the ducks posed an imminent health risk and I was going to inspect her kitchen,” Kenyon wrote.
Kenyon’s inspection of the kitchen found a restaurant worker prepping three dead ducks in the restaurant’s three compartment sink. According to the report, Kenyon informed Sun that processing animals in a commercial food establishment is illegal and the restaurant was closed immediately. It was unclear whether the ducks were being served to restaurant customers or if they were being prepared for personal consumption. Sun — who struggles to speak and understand English — told The Spencer Magnet she intended to take the ducks home for her family, not to feed them to customers. According to the report, the three processed ducks were quarantined and destroyed.
Sun told Spencer Magnet reporters Aug. 29 that she was working to clean the establishment and health department documents show Sun requested a reinspection. Sun told The Magnet she desperately needed to reopen because the restaurant was her family’s only livelihood.
“I have three children,” Sun said. “Restaurant closed (is) too much trouble for me.”
However, documents show initial cleaning efforts were inadequate and additional training, information and assistance was offered to Sun. Kenyon wrote in an inspection report dated Aug. 29 that although Sun said her restaurant was ready to reopen, there were multiple violations that needed to be corrected.
The Aug. 29 inspection revealed, among other issues, “copious” amounts of personal food items stored with restaurant items, and that Sun did not understand many of the cleaning and sanitizing regiments that must be performed in a restaurant. There were also plumbing issues with the dishwasher, which was draining into a bucket and being dumped, according to the report.
“Upon continuation of my inspection, I asked (Sun) to explain how she washed her dishes. She was unable to explain the concept of wash, rinse and sanitize. When I asked her what her sanitizer was, she responded that she did not know. We were able to locate a bleach bottle stored on the floor and asked her if this is what she used and she responded yes.”
According to the report, a Chinese-speaking friend of Sun’s was brought in to assist her in understanding the inspectors.
The Aug. 29 written report noted the following issues had to be properly corrected and inspected again:
* Mouse droppings in fountain drink area must be cleaned up. All items must be washed, rinsed and sanitized.
* Dishwasher must be fixed to plumbing code. Permission was given to hand-wash dishes until dishwasher is fixed.
* Chemical test strips must be ordered.
* Organize freezer and coolers for the correct storage of potentially hazardous foods eggs and chicken on the bottom, ready to eat foods on the top.
* Removal of all personal items and family food to the designated cooler.
* Removal of cardboard boxes, creating a potential for rodent infestation.
* All items must be labeled with the name and the date made, opened or date to be thrown away.
* All food items stored off of the floor.
* Foods must be stored in food-grade bags or containers. Plastic grocery bags and trash bags are not allowed.
* Clean all contact surfaces in the kitchen (shelves, storage areas, dishes ) using washing, rinse and santize.
* Remove cardboard from the single service item shelf.
* All foods from unapproved sources must be removed, example -caught fish from a friends pond.
* New tub needed for flour due to the inability to close.
Inspectors visited Legends again Aug. 30 and found that conditions had drastically improved. Another inspection report gave the restaurant a 99 percent rating out of 100 percent, 100 percent being a perfect score. The restaurant was permitted to reopen with the following stipulations: All containers must be labeled with names and dates to be thrown away; bare shelves should be painted to protect them so they are easy to clean; the dishwasher must be repaired to be brought up to plumbing code; and thermometers must be placed in the refrigeration units.
The restaurant’s most recent inspection gave it a 100 percent. According to health department documents, Legends scored a 94 percent or above on its last four health inspection reports.
NCHD Director Renee Blair-Stump said it was never the intent to keep Legends closed if its ownership showed the ability to bring the restaurant up to code.
“Our goal is to work with them, educate and make sure that the environmental health of the public is safe,” Blair-Stump said.