RED ALERT: Chinese/Latin restaurant still has violations after closure by state

9:11 AM, Nov 1, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Fla.- In the shadow of Busch Gardens, China Latina serves up a unique blend of Chinese and Latin cuisine.

"It's really good," said customer Kendrica Portorreoa. "They have all kinds of Spanish Latin food. You eat there, you feel like you're eating back at home."

But customers were unaware the Busch Boulevard restaurant was shut down by the state in October with 11 critical violations.

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Among the problems were:

  • Temperature violations on the chicken and eggrolls
  • The walk-in cooler soiled with the accumulation of food debris
  • Egg rolls stored in reused plastic grocery bags
  • Approximately 80 roaches found running across the cook's line floor, on the clean dish shelf, even inside a box of plastic wrap

"That's terrible, man," said an upset Portorreoa.

The state allowed the restaurant to reopen this past week, so we stopped in to see for ourselves if the problems were really corrected.

At first reluctant, staff eventually agreed to let us in. We went straight for the hand sink, where we found plenty of soap for employees to wash their hands. But that was one of the few good signs we saw. All over the kitchen we found grimy conditions, including a refrigerator door with the handle so filthy it was actually sticky to the touch.

We also found food stored on the floor uncovered in the walk-in cooler and throughout the kitchen.

Unfortunately, some of the same violations documented by the state still existed on our visit, including egg rolls still stored in plastic grocery bags.

"If those things are going on they shouldn't be open," said Portorreoa, who seemed most concerned over the roach issue.

We told Portorreoa we didn't see any live insects, but did find a dead one. "A dead one? Shut them down!"

While some problems were corrected, many others remained. So, we declare China Latina this week's Restaurant Red Alert.

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