A Chinese restaurant has reportedly closed after customers saw staff wheeling in road kill to be used in the kitchen of Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg, Kentucky. The truly unnerving part of this story is the police report that the owner did not know that it was a problem to use road kill as a meat source.
The customer saw staff wheeling in a dead deer in a garbage can. The customer says that staff was trying to be quick in bringing the kill into the kitchen but he could clearly see the deer’s tail as well as a foot and leg.
Paul Lawson, Whitley County’s environmental health inspector, said the son of the owner admitted that they found the dead deer on the side of the Interstate highway and decided to serve it up at the restaurant. He said that he was “concerned” by the fact that “[t]hey said they didn’t know that they weren’t allowed to.”
Now here’s the kicker. They can reopen as soon as the restaurant passes a secondary health inspection proving that they have properly sanitized the kitchen. I would have thought that serving up roadkill would have resulted in something a bit more stiff as a penalty like the denial of your food service permit in Kentucky. It may be possible that the health department is treating this as a matter of contamination since the deer was not served to customers. However, there remains the intent to serve the deer and the assumption that it would not have been identified as venison, let alone road kill, on the menu.
There is also the question of whether this is the first meat produced a al car. If not, it would seem to establish the basis for negligence per se in an action by former customers. There is also the possible claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.