Environmental health officer Joanne Lum inspects an ice locker to see if she can find any mould or dirt. The locker was spotlessly clean. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Food inspectors help keep the Saanich Peninsula safe

Spend some time in the shoes of an environmental health officer

Five restaurants in Sidney and North Saanich received high hazard ratings this year and environmental health officers are at the forefront of keeping diners safe.

According to government statistics, one in eight people, around 4 million Canadians, are struck down with food poisoning each year, with 11,500 hospitalizations and 240 deaths.

Island Health (VIHA) runs a rigorous system of mostly surprise inspections to keep diners safe. This regimen combines two considerations – the complexity of food being handled and kitchens’ level of compliance. Following an inspection, a food facility is given one of three ratings: low hazard, moderate hazard or high hazard.

While a number of low hazard ratings are handed out, this is usually due to non-critical violations such as dishwashers not reaching a high enough temperature or for shabby facilities.

Moderate hazard ratings required advice and another follow-up inspection.

ALSO READ: More than 63,700 seriously injured in B.C. workplaces, tallying over $4 billion in costs over 10 years

In the past year, five restaurants in Sidney and North Saanich received high hazard ratings, for a range of non-compliance issues including rodents in the kitchen. Four successfully followed improvement plans and were deemed a low or moderate hazard in subsequent inspections. Only one restaurant was closed immediately due to serious failings, but has since re-opened and is now judged to be a low hazard.

Joanne Lum has been an environmental health officer for the last 19 years and manages teams of inspectors for VIHA.

“In Greater Victoria, only a handful of facilities are shut down each year,” she says.

VIHA’s philosophy seeks to work with businesses and help them improve. This engagement encourages owners to seek advice, follow improvement plans and, in some cases, even self-report themselves when they have breached the rules.

An example of a facility successfully passing inspection is Fish On Fifth, a Sidney fish restaurant that was spotlessly clean when Lum visited on March 12.

After meeting the owners, Felicia and Arnie Cavanagh, Lum was supplied with cleaning lists, temperature charts and evidence of staff possessing food hygiene certification. Then she was left to conduct her inspection, which included checking the ice locker for mould, testing if chlorine levels were sufficient in the chemical dishwasher, and seeing if fridges and stoves were the correct temperatures. Even handsoap was analyzed for its potency.

A cordial relationship was maintained amid a busy lunch service between Lum and the staff. Lum thinks this is the most productive way of operating.

“[Environmental health officers] have a duty to ensure health requirements have been met based on their legislative mandate, but at the same time, they do want to see their operators succeed. EHOs are not just enforcers – they consult more than they enforce on a regular basis.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

A chemical dishwasher is inspected by environmental health officer Joanne Lum. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

The potency of cleaning chemicals are tested. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Just Posted

Royal Bay drama students help police train for emergency

Students helped train crisis negotiators by acting out scenarios

Victoria BC Transit driver taken to hospital after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

Almost 150 hectares purchased for parks in the CRD

Capital Regional District purchases two sites to increase park connectivity

CRD’s 2019 financial plan includes 23 per cent increase for capital projects

Housing, health care and wastewater projects included in 2019 plan

How a scrawny kid from Oak Bay bulked into one of rugby sevens’ best

Doing it for Dylan, Oak Bay’s Connor Braid at the top of his game

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

CRD land ideal for alternate route

Reader says old pipeline route best option

Most Read