More health violations at Philly Chinatown eatery

Joy Tsin Lau, the Chinatown eatery in Philadelphia where 100 lawyers and law students were sickened in February, received another scorching helping of criticism last week from the city health department.

joy-tsin-lau-chineseThe dimsum restaurant “does not have adequate refrigeration equipment (or the) capacity to maintain all refrigerated foods at a temperatore of 41 degrees or below,” department inspector Thomas Kolb wrote on Thursday.

Temperatures over 41 degrees promote the rapid growth of potentially toxic bacteria. In his report, Kolb noted that at Joy Tsin Lau, jellyfish, duck and bean sprouts were all being held at temperatures of 50 degrees or more.

The inspector also cited the restaurant for two additional serious risk factors – an employee eating in the kitchen prep area and another who did not follow proper handwashing protocols – and seven lesser infractions.

Outbreaks matter: food safety still a problem at Joy Tsin Lau

Outbreaks happen all the time. The majority are avoidable and can be linked to a few factors or bad decisions. While I’m a self-described outbreak junkie, it’s not the gore of vomit and barf associated with tragic incidents that I’m interested in. While the stories are important, I’m not into embellishment to scare folks into behavior change.

The philosophy I subscribe to is to present folks who make decisions, from the teenage produce stock boy to the CEO of a food company, with the risks and consequences of their actions. And let them make a decision. Hopefully they choose to avoid making people sick.tsin-lau-12001

I’m an outbreak junkie because the sick and the dead are real people with families; individuals whose lives changed because they ate something. Something, for the most part, that wasn’t supposed to make them ill.

And if nothing is learned from those illnesses, and changes made, food doesn’t get any safer.

Sam Wood of reports today that less than a year after being linked to an outbreak that sickened over 100 lawyers and law students, Joy Tsin Lau is still having trouble managing food safety.

Five pounds of raw duck feet and another five pounds of seaweed were tossed into the garbage last week after a city health inspector returned to Joy Tsin Lau.

The inspector took the temperature of the feet and found they weren’t cold enough. At 44 degrees Fahrenheit, they were in what the USDA considers the “danger zone,” where dangerous bacteria can double every 20 minutes.

Inspector Thomas Kolb cited the restaurant for three foodborne risk factors and four lesser violations. The restaurant’s owner did not return calls for comment Monday.

Learn from stuff.

100 lawyers and students sickened: Lawsuit filed against Chinatown restaurant in Philadelphia

A lawsuit has been filed against a Chinatown restaurant after about 100 lawyers and law students attending a private Lunar New Year dinner in February said they developed food poisoning.

Joy Tsin LauSamantha F. Green, a Philadelphia lawyer who attended the event at Joy Tsin Lau on 10th and Race streets and who said she was diagnosed with the norovirus, filed the lawsuit, citing a “sordid history of health code violation and food-borne illness.”

A copy of the document filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on Monday was obtained by, which reported the story.

Green’s lawyer wrote in the lawsuit that Joy Tsin Lau was cited for 249 health code violations by the Philadelphia Department of Health in the past six years.

The document also stated that on the morning after the dinner, Green began to feel ill and “raced to the emergency room at Pennsylvania Hospital in agonizing pain. Following nine hours of vomiting, she was unable to consume anything but bananas and tea for four days.”

The lawsuit also noted that 17 days before the banquet, a city health department restaurant inspector allegedly declared that management practices at Joy Tsin Lau allowed “unacceptable public health or food-safety conditions,” and four days after the food-poisoning incident, another city inspector allegedly found “41 violations that indicated a chronic inability to adhere to basic food safety standards.”

The most recent complaint by the city was filed May 6, but a July 6 court date on the complaint was canceled.

A representative of Joy Tsin Lau did not comment on the lawsuit or past complaints. The restaurant currently remains open.