Charlottetown restaurant closed in August had 'critical' food-safety violations

A Charlottetown restaurant was closed by health authorities for a week last month because of several food-safety violations.

'Closing an establishment is not something we’ve had to do over the last number of years'

Noted violations included a failure to wash hands as often as necessary, the improper cooling of foods as well as the inadequate storage of food, says Ryan Neale. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

A Charlottetown restaurant was closed by health authorities for a week last month because of several food-safety violations.

Ryan Neale, the manager of environmental health with the province, says a routine inspection was done at the Unique Wok on Grafton Street and "a number of violations" were noted — some of a "critical nature" — which forced the closure.

"We met to discuss that inspection and, at that time, it was determined that a combination of the number of violations, and the critical nature of the violations, led us to a decision that we needed to close the premises to allow them time to address those issues," he said.

Fifteen violations were noted which included a failure to wash hands as often as necessary, the improper cooling of foods as well as the inadequate storage of food, he said.

In the inspection, he added, it was found that there were foods that had been cooked that were not stored in the refrigerator and did not get cooled "in an adequate amount of time to prevent potential contamination."

Closing an establishment is not something we've had to do over the last number of years.— Ryan Neale

"Proper cooling of food is quite important. In fact, the number one improper food handling practice that can lead to food-borne illness outbreaks is improper cooling," he said.

"That's one that we always pay close attention to when doing inspections."

Concerning food storage, Neale said raw meat was stored above ready-to-eat foods — which often leads to the contamination of those ready-to-eat foods. "That's considered a fairly critical violation," he said.

'This is not a common occurrence'

When a restaurant is not meeting food-safety regulations, Neale said inspectors work closely with the business to make sure staff have a good understanding of the guidelines and proper practice.

And closing a restaurant for a time is something that isn't common on P.E.I.

Ryan Neale says a follow-up inspection was done and that it found that the restaurant's practices were in compliance and that 'they were able to demonstrate that they can safely operate the business.' (Brian Higgins/CBC News)

"Closing an establishment is not something we've had to do over the last number of years, we've been able to work with our operators to get them to a point, typically, where we feel that the public is protected," he said.

"This is not a common occurrence."

A follow-up inspection was done and Neale said it found that the restaurant's practices were in compliance and that "they were able to demonstrate that they can safely operate the business."

CBC's request to speak to the owner was not returned at the time of publishing.

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With files from Laura Chapin