Claim: Video shows Golden Corral restaurant storing food in an outdoor trash enclosure.
Example:[Collected via e-mail, July 2013]
Please check out to see if this is for real. Golden Corral shocking photos of raw meat by dumpsters. Filthy Kitchen. Saw it on FB.
Origins: In July 2013, Brandon Huber, an employee at a Golden Corral restaurant in Port Orange, Florida, posted a video on YouTube showing trays of fly-covered meat (hamburger and baby back ribs) and other food stacked in trays next to dumpsters in a trash enclosure. According to Huber, the food was placed out there by the restaurant's managers in order to keep it out of sight of health inspectors who were currently visiting the restaurant: "Apparently, what my company likes to do when they get ready for inspection is put the food by the dumpsters."
In a follow-up video, Huber claimed the food shown in the trash enclosure would be returned to the restaurant after the health inspectors departed: "I'm scared of my employment. I don't know who to tell but I don't want to cook this food. I don't feel safe with it. My
management is gonna wheel it back into the coolers after the inspection, like nothing happened ... I will show this to whoever I can to prevent any food-borne illnesses from spreading." The YouTube channel on which the video was posted also includes images of e-mails purportedly exchanged between Huber and his superiors discussing issues with improper food storage and hygiene.
Eric Holm at Metro Corral Partners, a franchisee who owns the restaurant shown in the video (as well as several other Golden Corral locations in Florida and Georgia) issued a statement maintaining that none of the food shown in the video was served to customers and was all destroyed shortly afterwards. The statement also asserted Huber knew the food had been destroyed rather than used because he participated in its disposal and claimed Huber's father had attempted to sell the video for thousands of dollars:
A video was recently posted showing an incident of improper food handling at our Port Orange, Fla., location. None of these items were served to a single customer. All were destroyed within the hour at the direction of management. Brandon Huber, the employee who made the video, participated in the disposal of the food. The following day, the father of the employee, posted an offer to sell the video for $5,000, which was not accepted. The manager involved in the improper storage was terminated for failing to follow approved food handling procedures
Eric Holm also posted a statement on the company's web site again asserting that the food shown in the video had been disposed of and not been served to customers. He reiterated that Brandon Huber knew this before he posted his video (and that the personnel who were visiting the restaurant at the time were Golden Corral company representatives and not county health inspectors):
Golden Corral Corporation and I take great pride in maintaining high standards of food quality, sanitation and guest experience. The Port Orange incident was a result of the Associate Manager making a bad decision to improperly store food when the corporate inspector made a routine, unannounced visit to the restaurant. I apologize that a member of my management team made this bad decision. To be clear, this inspection was conducted by Golden Corral Corporation. Brandon Huber did notify my area manager of the issue, and we acted swiftly to dispose of all the improperly stored foods. No guest was served any of this food that was handled improperly.
Brandon Huber actually assisted in the disposal of the food items the day before he posted the videos. I am personally disappointed that Mr. Huber chose to post the videos and make false statements after the situation was corrected.
I have a fantastic team of 110 hard-working people at the Port Orange restaurant. Again, I apologize for this unfortunate incident.
(Some viewers have suggested that the fact that the food shown in the trash enclosure was still in trays outside the dumpsters rather than thrown into those trash receptacles indicates it would have been returned to the restaurant had a higher level of management not intervened first. However, it's also possible the food was quickly wheeled into the enclosure as the most expeditious way of getting it out of sight, and it would have been tossed into the dumpsters later as time permitted.)
The best scenario we can put together from these disparate accounts is that an associate manager at the Golden Corral restaurant in Port Orange knew the restaurant was either storing food improperly or was storing food of unacceptable quality, so when company inspectors unexpectedly showed up at the restaurant, the associate manager made the (unwise) choice of getting the offending food out of sight of the inspectors by having it placed outside in a trash enclosure. Employee Brandon Huber notified area management of what was going on, and someone higher up the management chain intervened (presumably after the inspection was complete) and ensured that the food in question was disposed of, not returned to the restaurant and served to guests. The associate manager responsible for the incident was fired, although it's not clear whether that action was taken before or after the incident was publicized on the Internet.
Whether the employee who posted the video knew (as claimed by management) that the food he captured in his video had truly been thrown away rather than returned to the restaurant, and (if that was the case) what his motivations for suggesting otherwise might have been, are open questions — as is the issue of how indicative this incident is of practices at Golden Corral restaurants.