BUFFALO, N.Y. — This weekend more than 60 restaurants and wineries will descend on downtown Buffalo to serve up meals and beverages to hundreds of thousands of people during the annual Taste of Buffalo.
To learn how Erie County inspects the food available at the event, 2 On Your Side filed a Freedom of Information request and received health inspection reports from the past three years.
In 2016 there were 97 violations among food vendors, 41 violations in 2017, and 82 violations last year. Restaurants have been written up for storing food on the ground, hand washing systems not being setup and not keeping food at the right temperature.
Over the past three years, the most-frequent restaurant cited was Saigon Cafe, located on Elmwood in Buffalo.
They had 19 violations over that period.
These are some of the problems that were found -- sandwiches stored in a heating unit that had no electricity, a cooler with sauces inside was draining on the ground, and hand washing systems not set up.
We wanted to know if Saigon Cafe had a response to these violations.
2 On Your Side's Jeff Preval called the restaurant this week asking for a manager or the owner -- no one was available so he left a message.
2 On Your Side personally went to Saigon Cafe Thursday, again to speak to someone in charge, we were told there were no managers and the owner wasn't there, so Preval left a business card.
We still have not heard from Saigon Cafe, which is not participating in the Taste this year.
On Thursday, 2 On Your Side spoke to Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein -- it's her department that does these inspections.
REPORTER: Should people who come out to the Taste have any questions about the food, the safety of it and what they're buying?
"By the first couple of hours after the festival opens our sanitarians have inspected all the food facilities any critical violations will be corrected on site," Burstein said, while non-critical issues may be expected to corrected following an inspection.
There have been times that violations are even found upon re-inspection.
According to Burstein, there have been no food contamination outbreaks at the Taste of Buffalo to her knowledge and no vendors that have been forced to shutdown because of non-compliance.
You can read the Taste of Buffalo inspection reports for yourself here.
Taste of Buffalo Health Inspection Reports 2016
Taste of Buffalo Health Inspection Reports 2017
Taste of Buffalo Health Inspection Reports 2018