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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Plans for pot shop in Sidney spark back to life

Changing provincial regulations could clear the way for Sidney’s first ever pot shop

Woman who talked to unconscious husband, a Victoria police officer, for 30 years focus of study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

Langford residents concerns rise over proposal for two 11-storey buildings

Group calls for more green space, independent traffic feasiblity study

New ECG will diagnose life-threatening emergencies in ‘timely manner’ in Sooke

Machine funded by the Sooke and Juan de Fuca Health Foundation

VIDEO: Dashcam footage shows Victoria police-involved crash

Video shows VicPD officer strike another vehicle at intersection

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Most Read