By JEANNE STARMACK
A box truck full of spoiled meat and vegetables was headed for at least nine restaurants in the Youngstown area and western Pennsylvania, according to police and documents from the Ohio Department of Health.
The restaurants are Super Buffet 8, 1212 Doral Dr., Boardman. which is now the Grill Buffet; 7 China Star, 3911 Market St., Youngstown; Fortune Garden, 4245 Belmont Ave., Liberty; Girard Wok, 44 W. Liberty St., Girard; 45 Great Wall, 2662 Mahoning Ave., Warren; Main Moon, 84 Connelly Blvd., Sharon, Pa.; Top’s Buffet, 2980 E. State St., Hermitage, Pa.; Golden Dragon, 244 N. Erie St., Mercer, Pa.; and the China Max, 1911 Leesburg Grove, Grove City, Pa.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol stopped the truck at 7:20 a.m. Aug. 15 on Interstate 75 in Butler County near Cincinnati. An inspector from the OSHP saw the truck weaving lanes, the OSHP report says.
The inspector pulled the truck off the highway onto an exit and weighed it. It was 7,000 pounds overweight, the report says.
The inspector also noticed liquid running from the rear cargo area, and there was a foul smell, the report says. He called a canine unit, and police opened the cargo door.
The inspector found open bags of raw meat, chicken and seafood spilling fluids onto vegetables and fruits. There were cleaning supplies in the rear with the food, the report says.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture responded to the scene, confiscated the food and had it taken to a landfill, said Patrol Sgt. Joe Luebbers, who investigated the case. The state is handling the investigation, he said.
The OSHP report says the truck is owned by Aspiron Inc. of Cincinnati. The DOH documents indicate the truck was owned by Eternal Trading of Cincinnati. Invoices of restaurant sales provided by the DOH say the restaurants bought the food from a company called Union Broker Limited, also of Cincinnati.
Luebbers said the company might use several names. The address for Aspiron and Eternal Trading, also listed as Eternal Food Services, is the same.
Restaurant owners who could be reached Wednesday seemed surprised the spoiled food was headed their way, but said there were no chances of it reaching customers because they always inspect food for freshness.
The manager of the Girard Wok, who did not want to give his name, said the restaurant just started using Union Broker Limited. He said it dealt with Eternal Trading years ago.
“We inspect our food very, very carefully,” he said. “Our restaurant’s been here for 20-some years.”
Angi Chen, co-manager at Tops Buffet, said the restaurant returned “a lot of food” from the company because “the food was not good.” She said the restaurant continues to buy dry food from the company because their prices are cheaper.
Johnny Hung, owner of the Grill Buffet, told 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner, that he had never heard of Eternal Food Services.
Amy Bao, daughter of Fortune Garden’s owner, told the station the restaurant never had issues with Union Broker Limited before and always inspects food before accepting a shipment.
The Vindicator reached a man Wednesday evening at a number for Aspiron.
The man said he was a “registered agent” for the company, but would only talk to people who want to file lawsuits against it. He would not comment on the spoiled food.
A woman who answered the phone for Union Broker Limited had no comment.
Attempts to reach someone for a comment at Eternal Food Services were unsuccessful.