A war of words has erupted between one of Queenstown’s worst-rated eateries and the local council.
Mandarin manager Anna Chan accuses the council of being “racist and crazy” over a recent complaint – and subsequent inspection - against the D-graded, Beach Street restaurant.
But the council bites back, saying food safety is colour blind.
Mandarin diners complained of an insect in rice and part of a chicken foot in their honey chicken, according to a council report.
They also raised concerns of smelly seafood rice and dirty fish tanks.
Speaking to Mountain Scene through a translator, manager Anna Chan says she thinks council is “racist and crazy”. She also reckons the report isn’t accurate.
“We don’t use chicken feet in the restaurant at all so I don’t know where the chicken foot came from.
“We also wash the rice three or four times before we cook it, so I don’t know what kind of insect it was - or where that would come from.”
Council regulatory boss Lee Webster isn’t happy with the slur; food safety is colour blind as are we, he says.
He stresses all issues relate to food safety and hygiene deficiencies.
“When we carry out these inspections, our priority is to ensure that food is safe to eat and we will try to educate the food business operator as to the problems and any improvements necessary.
“Where there are no improvements we will continue to monitor - or if necessary close a premises.”
The July 6 inspection didn’t give evidence to support the complaint - but it did expose problems.
Council staffer Rachel Rose’s report shows prepared foods in the chiller with no dates, boxes of squid and beef fillet left to defrost at room temperature, fridge temperatures not monitored for over a week and open bags of ingredients in the dry store.
The report stresses bosses need to take complaints seriously, but notes the premises was generally in a reasonable standard of cleanliness.
Chan disagrees with the overall assessment.
Explaining the lack of labels, she says veg cut in the morning are all used daily. On defrosting meat, it doesn’t exceed time limit guidelines when defrosting at room temperature. As for the lack of fridge temperature records, Chan reckons the council made an error when looking at the clipboard.
Chan firmly believes council doesn’t like them - and that is the reason for a D grade.
“We have improved a lot. I’ve done a lot of cleaning, repainted shelves, and I’m confused by why they are saying it’s still dirty.”
Sticking by his guns, Webster says food grading helps the community make informed decisions.
He says it’s disappointing when businesses don’t take advice on board and operate at low standards.