Without washing their hands, an employee at a Korean food joint touched a trash can before handling “food contact surfaces” during a failed health inspection.
The Stone Bowl House on Buford Highway in Doraville received a 55 on its health inspection Monday by the DeKalb County health department. Anything below 70 is considered failing.
Inspectors also noted employees touched their face and clothes before touching food with their bare hands. Other violations included old food residue found on various cooking and kitchen utensils. Inspectors also saw raw jellyfish being stored next to raw meat, according to the inspection.
“I thought we were doing a really good job,” Manger Min Lee told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I am really on top of everything.”
But Lee said the score and the inspection don’t tell the whole story.
For starters, the inspection ran into the eatery’s evening hours, she said.
“Usually, (inspections) are two hours, but they were there for six,” Lee said. The restaurant opens for lunch 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and closes at 2:30 p.m. before their dinner hours. Lee said the inspector arrived about 1:30 p.m. The restaurant begins serving dinner at 5 p.m.
DeKalb health department spokesman Eric Nickens said depending on the complexity of the establishment — such as kitchen size and scale of menu — inspection times can vary, but there is no set minimum and maximum to conduct an inspection.
An intern also accompanied the inspector, which likely contributed to an already stressful day, Lee said.
“They focused on everything,” she said. “I felt it was a bit much because she was training the intern, which is great. But it was a hard and very stressful day.” The restaurant has had interns accompany inspectors before, but Lee said some of the items on the inspection felt nitpicky such as the item regarding an employee touching their hands with parsley.
Lee told The AJC the chef was merely telling the inspector that they cook their food fresh daily — an explanation for the varying food temperatures — when she pointed at the the parsley, accidentally touching it.
“I just felt like if it was a just a normal inspection, we would’ve done pretty well,” she said.
While restaurants can’t appeal their inspection score, Nickens said managers with similar complaints such as Lee’s can schedule a conference to discuss the inspection. Lee said she doesn’t plan to take any further action with the health board.
Lee emphasized despite the low mark, her staff wears hairnets and gloves when preparing food and make every attempt to maintain cleanliness.
Since the inspection, she’s spoken to them about safety measures and gave a stern warning about washing their hands.
“I make sure everything is clean,” she said, “and, yes, sometimes employees make mistakes, but I correct as they go along.”
The restaurant passed its previous two inspections with a 93 and an 88. A reinspection will be conducted within the next 10 days following Monday’s inspection.
To read the full inspection click here.
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