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)

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)

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)

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

Just Posted

General manager Lindsey Pomper says Sidney’s Star Cinema cannot wait welcome audiences when it reopens June 18, amid an easing of public health measures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain for the first time after months in the darkness

Iconic theatre to reopen at half capacity for Friday night showing

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

North Saanich advisor says initiative supports urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A dogs in parks pilot study unanimously approved by Saanich council will evaluate how park space can best be shared between dog owners and non-owners alike. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Saanich to study park-sharing strategy between those with and without pets

District-wide People, Parks and Dogs study to produce recommendations by fall

Staff member Lena Laitinen gives the wall at BoulderHouse a workout during a media tour on June 16. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
BoulderHouse raring to rock Langford

Popularity of bouldering continues to climb across Greater Victoria

The Sooke Potholes is a jewel in the community's crown. Transition Sooke hosts a town hall meeting on community growth on June 26. (Courtesy: Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke forum tackles community growth

To Grow or Not to Grow online town hall meeting set for June 26

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

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

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read