Off Premises Food Preparation

So the SGV newspaper reports that one of the Mama Lu branches was busted by the LA County health department for xiaolongbao that were prepared offsite from an unapproved source. Unfortunately, while the health inspector was on premises, an employee wheels in a shopping cart full of XLB in zip lock bags, and when the employee disclosed the XLB were made offsite, the inspector banned the sale of the product. Now having bought dumplings out of Mama Lu’s living room freezer in the days before she opened her restaurants, and knowing there are several branches of Mama Lu’s, I would presume that they are preparing their own dumplings at a central facility. And obviously restaurants buy prepared product from food supply companies. So I’m wondering what the problem might be here? Does anybody know?

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Speculation on my part, but maybe storage conditions off-site may be the issue. Or simply lack of proper documentation from originating facility?

You need a special food license permit (or maybe it’s a particular type of food handler card, I forget) to sell food that’s either prepackaged or prepared off-site at a “retail food facility” (ie, restaurant).

I would guess that you can’t transport frozen foods in a shopping cart because there’s no guarantee that the right temperature would be maintained.

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I can’t confirm the authenticity of what I’m about to say…but I’ve heard that Mama Lu’s dumplings/XLB are made by a bunch of old Asian ladies in a garage and that its common knowledge in the dumpling restaurants in the 626 area.

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This only makes me love them more, of course.

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this would not surprise me at all. lots of egg rolls in little saigon made the same way.

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April 2019 here, but I just told a friend that my husband and I kept getting food poisoning from Mama Lu’s dumplings, and she told me about this. We love their dumplings so much that we kept trying to cook them longer and longer, but ended up throwing out two bags.

You should try buying from a restaurant where you can see them make XLBs on the spot. We’ve purchased a few bags from Juicy Dumpling (aka Long Xing Ji) in San Gabriel without any problems. They even put ice in the bags so the XLBs wouldn’t melt on the way home.

Side note: if the food has been contaminated, longer cooking times won’t necessarily make it safe to eat.

Correct. Foodborne infection vs foodborne intoxication!

Thank you for the recommendation!