Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website www.lenoreskomal.net.   Read more about this blog.
Posted: January 29th, 2013
Why do Chinese restaurants have so many food sanitation violations?

If you read the paper today, you would have seen the article on four restaurants that have racked up a bunch of food code violations. You would’ve also noticed that they are restaurants serving Chinese food. According to the article, the county health department has asked for the maximum fines to be leveled per violation, meaning thousands of dollars for the restaurant owners.

I have wondered both internally and out loud why this seems to be a repeat problem. Various opinions abound. Some of it I gleaned from a health inspector who shared his own views on the topic with a writer from About.com.

In a nutshell:

1) It’s a cultural thing. Our standards of cleanliness are very different. (From my own experience traveling in China, I have found this to be true. It is not uncommon for homes in rural parts of the country to be without indoor plumbing.)

2) Chinese restaurants have so many different menu options that require many ingredients that are hard to store and use without creating a mess, considering the fast output often associated with ordering from them.

3) Chinese restaurants often use oil to make many dishes (ie., wok fried foods and Fry-o-laters). Grease build up is inevitable and that can attract roaches and other bugs.

4) Communication. Even with an interpretator, the nuance of our language and the importance of health codes can be lost in translation. Again, a cultural thing.

5) Chinese culture is an ancient one, as is much of the way food is prepared and eaten. Adapting to the methods of another country isn’t seamless or easy.

I happen to love Asian cuisine. And I hate the idea of not being able to support local businesses. I’m not sure what to do.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Comments

3 comments on “Why do Chinese restaurants have so many food sanitation violations?

  1. Rex & Priscilla White on said:

    I agree with your points. We have eaten in some of the Chinese restaurants that have been cited and have never gotten sick. In our society we are TOO clean. That’s why people get sick, their immune systems don’t get built up. Plus the health department bureaucrats have to justify their jobs.

  2. Rex & Priscilla White on said:

    You make some excellent points. We have eaten in some of the Chinese restaurants that have been cited and have never gotten sick. In our society we are TOO clean. That’s why people get sick, their immune systems don’t get built up. Plus the health department bureaucrats have to justify their jobs.

  3. Mark J. Meyers on said:

    I agree totally with your comments. I love Chinese food but sadly no longer order any or go to a Chinese buffet, etc. I truly feel that there is a major missing part of my dining options because there are so many dishes that are Asian and I miss them terribly. To me, there is nothing better than a couple of egg rolls, some pork fried rice and several entrees…Beef and broccoli, General Tso’s Chicken, on down the list.

    I have tried to make a couple of Asian entrees but I am not an excellent cook. There are at least 4 of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Erie that I used to support, but no longer do because of the risk of food borne illnesses.

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