Two Arkansas restaurants combine for 34 health code violations so far this year

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Inspection reports for two central Arkansas restaurants highlight a combined total of more than 160 violations in less than four years, and 34 of those have been documented in the last couple months.

El Parian Mexican restaurant in Malvern has been noted for 89 violations since October 2017; 20 of them happened this past February on three different visits from health inspectors, according to online records.

On Feb. 10, inspectors noted employees didn’t wash their hands before putting on gloves. Employees were also seen handling food with their bare hands, according to inspection reports. Two weeks later, on Feb. 26, employees were caught repeating the same violations — in addition to handling both dirty and clean dishes without changing gloves.

Other observations last month at El Parian include storing food at the wrong temperature and storing raw meat near ready-to-eat foods, according to inspection reports. An inspector wrote: “Demonstration of knowledge of food safety not evident throughout the facility…”

Another restaurant that tallied a high number of violations so far this year is King Buffet in Heber Springs.

In fact, King Buffet has racked up a total of 82 write-ups dating back to August of 2016; 14 of those have come in the last couple months, according to inspection reports. The violations noted this year include employees cutting veggies without gloves, prescription medicine stored next to food and foods stored at the wrong temperature, according to inspection records.

Sherri Woodus oversees the retail food program at the Arkansas Department of Health, which has extension offices in every county. The unit is responsible for keeping up with about 17,000 retail food establishments across the state.

“Our goal is the protection of the public,” Woodus says.

She adds that her unit is getting more restaurants added to its oversight every day.

Woodus says the number of violations at an establishment isn’t as important as the type of violations they are and whether they present significant health risks to customers, which could start the process of shutting the place down.

“There is a process to have a restaurant to close down,” Woodus says.

“Before we get to that point, we like to help the facility all we can to correct their violations.”

Woodus says that typically, health inspectors will check in on restaurants about twice a year, but if violations continue to stack up then it could happen a couple times a month.

Fox 16 reached out to both El Parian, but management there declined to comment.

Fox 16 did speak with management at King Buffet who told us that they were working to fix the reported problems.

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