Inspectors shut down local restaurant

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The New Mexico Environment Department shut down a Clovis restaurant, Fuzhou Buffet, following an inspection Monday that revealed multiple food safety violations, according to NMED officials.

Four violations that posed threats to human health and safety were found in the inspection: Raw chicken was left unrefrigerated overnight; sliced potatoes were stored in a strainer on the floor near a sink; food was not properly labeled or dated; and a grease trap in the kitchen fed into the city’s sewer line, according to NMED Communications Director Marissa Stone.

Fuzhou Buffet is located at 116 E. 21st St.

NMED officials are not aware of any food-related illnesses tied to Fuzhou, NMED officials said.

The restaurant was shut down because of the improper grease trap, the inspection report reads.

Grease traps must be located outside restaurants and pumped periodically because their contents are hazardous to health, NMED Food Program Manager Mary Lou LaCasse said.

The improper location and operation of the Fuzhou grease trap was discovered in an NMED inspection about two months ago, LaCasse said. The restaurant was allotted two months to fix the trap, but did not, she said.

“This is a serious case because we did suspend (Fuzhou’s) permit,” Stone said.
Fuzhou Buffet did not return a Clovis News Journal phone message seeking comment.

The majority of NMED restaurant inspections do not result in an immediate suspension of a permit, according to NMED environmental specialist Branden Marshall, who inspected Fuzhou Monday.

The restaurant must abandon the current grease trap and build a new one before their permit is restored, LaCasse said.

The city of Clovis alerted NMED of the grease trap violations at Fuzhou, according to City Manager Joe Thomas and NMED officials.

Thomas said the city has an employee that monitors Clovis food establishments. He said he did not know how long the restaurant had been operating the improper grease trap.

“We try to ensure this (food violation) does not happen,” Thomas said.

Thomas said grease, fat and oil that enters the city sewer line can accumulate and threaten the city’s water treatment plant.

A restaurant permit has not been suspended in Clovis for at least five years, Stone said.