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

Sooke cannabis report does little to answer production questions

Council is trying to get ahead of the issue

Crews respond to near drowning at Thetis Lake

Man taken to hospital after calls come in of drowning in progress

Vet services for Victoria’s pets of the homeless cancelled for first time in a decade

Vets for Pets faces a volunteer shortage that’s forced the group to cancel its recent service

Wooldog among mysteries uncovered with powerful UVic microscope

Finding ‘Mutton,’ a dog lost in a Smithsonian drawer for 150 years

Optometrist pedals through depression, leads others for the cause

Ride Don’t Hide bike rides start, end at Windsor Park

Victoria Weekender: What’s happening this weekend, June 15-16

Car Free YYJ, a barber battle and an Outdoor Discovery Day

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read