Dirty situations and health-code violations

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

New Westminster restaurant closures in 2015

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter

A person who eats out regularly never wants to hear that a restaurant they’ve been to has been temporarily or permanently closed due to health violations. The thought of a dirty kitchen, unwashed hands, or the prevalence of rodents brings a feeling of nausea to most people.

In the past year, a handful of restaurants in New West fell below the line of satisfactory and into the dark realms of violating health codes. Timothy Millard, a health protection manager, explained the inspection process and what can potentially lead to a closure to the New Westminster Record. He noted that, although restaurants are checked twice a year, some businesses may be obligated to accommodate upwards of the mandatory two should complaints arise from unsatisfied customers.

“The goal is to help a restaurant owner offer safe food to the public,” Millard stated to the Record.

There is a long list of standards that the Fraser Health Authority stands by, most of which include “respect to general food handling, storage temperatures, sanitation, employee hygiene, and equipment or food contact surface disinfection procedures for the specific type of processes and foods involved,” according to the Fraser Health Authority’s official website.

In all situations, public health inspectors are trusted to ensure no possible form of contamination takes place in the food industry. Understandably, the general physical condition of the workplace must be assessed to ensure that employees and customers can have a good experience. It’s not only individual restaurants that get reviewed—it includes “any food production or manufacturing facilities” such as “food stores, bakeries, butcher shops, catering facilities, mobile vending carts, and temporary food events at fairs or festivals.”

In 2015, 15 health violations were caught in New Westminster, ranging from previously served food not being discarded to failure to exclude employees from food handling when the employee is suffering from a communicable disease. Fraser Health closed 12 restaurants.

While many assume that health violations mean closures, they are misinformed. When there is a violation of health in the food industry, the inspector charges the restaurant with their infraction, possibly temporarily shuts down the business, and then returns 30 days after the charge to see if the issue has been resolved. In most cases, owners comply and the restaurant resumes conducting business as usual. The only case upon which there would be an immediate closure of a restaurant would be a hot water tank failure or a major rodent infestation.