Red Deer’s Phoenix Buffet restaurant has reopened after it was temporarily shut down by Alberta Health Services inspectors. Malou Esparaganza, Phoenix Buffet supervisor, said all the health-and-safety protocols are up-to-date. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Red Deer Chinese restaurant – Phoenix Buffet – reopens

Health and safety standard up-to-date

Red Deer’s favourite Chinese food restaurant has reopened after it was temporarily shut down by Alberta Health Services inspectors who found health code violations.

Phoenix Buffet, at 11-6791 50 Ave., received a notice of closure Sept. 26, when a health inspection noted unsafe conditions such as poor sanitation and unsafe food practices.

Red Deerians voted Phoenix Buffet as their favourite Chinese restaurant in the Advocate’s A-List published this past Friday. The two other finalists in the category were: Dragon City Cafe and Red Star Chinese Restaurant.

An inspection report dated Oct. 24, posted on AHS’s website, shows the restaurant’s compliance with various food handling practices. These include acceptable attire and hygiene, sanitizing equipment and utensils, food safety training, and so on.

Some issues noted in the report were corrected during the recent inspection. The deficiencies had included wiping cloths sitting on counters, raw meat products in the cooler were not separated from cooked or ready-to-eat foods, and the number of hours food had been sitting out.

“Ensure that foods do not sit for longer than two hours in the danger zone (4 C-60 C). Options for sushi rice include monitoring the pH of each batch, keeping it out of the danger zone, or making smaller portions that are discarded after two hours,” a comment from the report states.

Phoenix Buffet supervisor Malou Esparagoza said the family owned restaurant has taken the negative news and turned it into a positive by using the time the restaurant was closed to regroup and retrain staff.

Esparagoza said all the safety protocols are up to date.

“If it wasn’t safe, they (AHS) wouldn’t have reopened us.”

After the closure, business was slow, but it’s been picking up since the restaurant reopened on Oct. 11, she said.

“The inspector was really happy about everything, because we have met their expectations now… she said it’s all good now and there are no problems, so everyone is welcome to come back.”

The AHS website states the initial closure of the restaurant was due to offences such as unsafe thawing of high-risk foods in stagnant water; lack of adequate handwashing by food handlers; poor sanitation throughout the facility; unsafe food storage practices; use of dirty, cracked or non-food grade containers; and the use of “visibly dirty items,” including dry food scoops, cups and bowls.

The restaurant owners, Yan Guang Liang and Qi Wen Zheng, were directed to correct these problems to the satisfaction of the executive officer of Alberta Health Services.

The AHS website shows other Central Alberta restaurants that are ordered closed because of health violations. These include Coyote’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer, Humpty’s Family Restaurant in Sylvan Lake, Wild Texan BBQ Company in Spruce View and Maureen’s BBQ Pit in Bowden.

In an email, AHS confirmed public health inspectors operate under the Alberta Public Health Act to ensure compliance with the province’s food regulation. Under the regulation, restaurant inspections occur prior to the opening of a new facility, every four to six months thereafter or more often if non-compliance with the regulation has been identified.

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