East end eatery fined $20,000 for poor food safety

A Scarborough takeout restaurant has been fined $20,000 for violating food safety regulations after a cockroach infestation and other problems were discovered.

A Scarborough takeout restaurant has been fined $20,000 for violating food safety regulations after inspectors discovered a cockroach infestation, among other problems.

The problems at Chandra's Takeout Restaurant near Markham Road and Eglinton Avenue East date back to April, when food safety inspectors noticed a heavy infestation of cockroaches, inadequate pest controls and meat products stored at room temperature.

The restaurant was given a warning and told to improve the conditions, said Jim Chan, the Toronto Public Health agency's food safety manager.

When food inspectors checked again in late August, they noticed the restaurant hadn't cleaned up its act and ordered it temporarily closed.

But the restaurant owner hid the red closure sign under a poster, according to Toronto public health.

"It is their responsibility to monitor and inspect their own establishment on a regular basis instead of waiting for an inspector to come in and write everything down in a report," Chan said.

Guilty of 4 offences

The restaurant pleaded guilty to four offences on Friday — not having a certified food handler, hiding the red closure sign, failing to control a pest infestation and failing to protect food from contamination.

Sylvia Hudson, a justice of the peace at the Toronto East Court Office, then slapped the eatery with $20,000 in fines on Friday, including a $5,000 levy for not employing a certified food handler.

Chan said the food-handler penalty usually carries a lighter fine of up to $1,000. But he welcomed the stiff punishment.

"It is common sense for any food operator to know that when you have an infestation like cockroaches or rodents around food, it's not acceptable," Chan said.

"It's not that they don't understand, it's that they don't understand that they have to take responsibility on their food premises."

Chandra's passed a Nov. 6 inspection and is now open. When contacted by CBC News on Tuesday, the restaurant would only say it's good it has now passed the inspection.