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Health inspectors shut down Charlottetown restaurant for a week in August

Unique Wok
Unique Wok - Ryan Ross

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - A Charlottetown restaurant was closed by provincial health inspectors for a week last month over numerous violations of the Public Health Act Food Premises Regulations.

Inspectors issued a health order, the most serious of the orders in a graduated level of enforcement, to Unique Wok on Grafton Street.

The restaurant was closed when the health order was issued on Aug. 15. It re-opened on Aug. 22 when inspectors determined that the restaurant was in full compliance with regulations.

“Because we’ve had issues with this operator complying in the past, we had made a decision some time ago that any unsatisfactory inspection would warrant a warning letter,’’ said Ryan Neale, manager of environmental health for the Department of Health and Wellness.

Enforcement begins with a warning letter and moves to notice of intent to issue a health order and, finally, the most serious of the three, the actual health order, which authorizes inspectors to close a premise.

“On Aug. 14, there was an inspection done and a warning letter was issued because there were 15 items noted. With a significant number of violations like that . . . I brought it forward to the chief public health officer and it was determined that we would issue a health order and close the premise.’’

The violations included failure to cool food, failure to provide handwashing facilities, failure to wash hands as often as necessary, failure to receive, store, process and/or transport food or food packaging materials under conditions that prevent contamination and failure to provide food contact surfaces that are smooth, non-absorbent, non-toxic and durable.

Other violations included failure to maintain food contact surfaces and utensils in a clean and sanitary condition, failure to provide a no-rinse, food grade, chemical sanitizing solution at the appropriate concentration, failure to label chemicals, food handlers not wearing proper hair restraints, failure to maintain the premises and equipment in a clean and sanitary condition, failure to follow a written sanitation plan, facility not designed, constructed and maintained to provide effective protection against access and sheltering of pests, failure to establish and maintain a record of dishwashing temperature readings and failure to provide an appropriate procedure to verify sanitizer strength.

Neale said a follow-up inspection was done on Aug. 21 and it was deemed the restaurant still wasn’t up to snuff. Another inspection followed a day later and the restaurant was found to be in full compliance.

Unique Wok is no stranger to health inspectors. The restaurant was hit with three warning letters in 2017.

“(This operator) has certainly struggled. We continue to pay close attention to premises in that position and we’ll continue to do that with this premise going forward.’’

Sam’s Family Restaurant on St. Peters Road in Charlottetown was also hit with a warning letter in August.

A routine inspection on July 31 noted a number of unsatisfactory items, including failure to maintain potentially hazardous food at a temperature of 4 C or colder.

That item remained unsatisfactory on a follow-up inspection Aug. 21 so the warning letter was issued. Another follow-up inspection on Tuesday determined that the matter had been resolved.

“They were very co-operative in working with us to address why this was happening. Obviously, it was a very hot summer and that does put some pressure on equipment, but operators have a responsibility to ensure food is stored in a safe manner.’’

Licence violations

The following food premise operators were hit with warning letters in August for operating without a valid licence. All have since renewed:

- Fishermen’s Haven Park, Tignish

- Royal Canadian Legion Branch 3, Souris

- Slemon Park Hotel/Anson’s Restaurant, Slemon Park

- The Inn at Spry Point, Spry Point

- Trailside Music Café & Inn, Mount Stewart

- Tyne Valley Sport Centre

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