March 31, 2020

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Rodents, improper thawing prompt restaurant closures

Mice and inadequate measures for thawing food have prompted health inspectors to temporarily close 10 Manitoba restaurants in recent months.

Winnipeg-based Lisbon Bakery, New China Kitchen, Super Taste Pizza, Giant Eatery, El Izalco Market, Pho Que Huong, Kokeb Restaurant and Summer Palace Restaurant were all shuttered for at least a day, due to public health concerns in and around their kitchens between October 2019 and January 2020.

In the latest roundup of infractions, health inspectors penalized restaurants for everything from poor dishwashing techniques to storing potentially hazardous food at unsafe temperatures, insufficient pest management strategies to failing to ensure food is correctly thawed.

Super Taste Pizza (789 Ellice Ave.) was ordered to close for four days in late November after it was found to have violated a slew of health code rules — among them, poor overall sanitation, ineffective measures to prevent entry of rodents and failure to properly clean surfaces where food is prepared.

"That was the case; I really hate to admit it," said Ridwanul Haque, who manages the West End fast food joint, which sells pizza, chicken, fries and curry.

Haque said a mixture of poor management, an old building and lots of customers while running short on staff meant that unfortunately, the restaurant failed to meet an inspection on Nov. 25.

"But now, we have new people hired here and we also have (separate) people cleaning stuff and people handling the food. We also have people that have food-handling certificates."

Super Taste Pizza has since hired five more staff members.

A block north, Pho Hoang Restaurant (5-794 Sargent Ave.) has been charged a total of almost $1,500 in fines in recent weeks for handling food under insanitary conditions and failure to both ensure food was correctly thawed and its dishwashing machine was sanitizing utensils properly.

Food-related offenders have been slapped with a total of almost $7,000 in fines since late October.

The highest individual fine came to $722 for West Broadway’s Bella Vista Restaurant. Last month, the restaurant was convicted of failure to register before commencing operation of a food handling establishment in early November.

Meanwhile, a dozen Manitoba swimming pools have been temporarily shuttered since Oct. 31. A handful of pools at Lakeview Hecla Resort in Gull Harbour were closed due to inadequate water circulation or quality, according to the province’s latest health protection report. The resort was fined more than $2,000.

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.

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Updated on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 12:36 PM CST: Corrects amount of fine for Bella Vista.

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