The Ruby Chinese Restaurant (1571 Sandhurst Circle, Scarborough) was shut down earlier this week, after Toronto health inspectors discovered numerous food safety violations in the east end establishment. The October 7th inspection was part of the City's ongoing investigation into a Salmonella outbreak that health officials have linked to the restaurant.
According to Toronto Public Health, 18 lab-confirmed cases and an additional 19 suspected cases of Salmonella food poisoning have been reported by customers who ate at the restaurant between September 12th and September 20th. Three victims were hospitalized, and one – and elderly man – has died.
Toronto's municipal code requires restaurants to post their most recent food inspection notice and, on request, to furnish the related inspection report. But this would not have helped Ruby's patrons to avoid a hazardous situation. Ruby's Chinese Restaurant underwent three health inspections in 2009 prior to the outbreak – on April 29th, August 24th and September 29th. Each time, it earned a passing grade.
In contrast, the October 7th inspection report listed the following serious infractions:
- Crucial Infraction: Failure to ensure food is not contaminated/adulterated
- Crucial Infraction: Failure to prevent an insect infestation
- Significant Infraction: Failure to use proper utensils to ensure food safety
- Significant Infraction: Failure to use proper procedure(s) to ensure food safety
- Significant Infraction: Failure to properly wash large utensils
- Significant Infraction: Failure to clean washroom fixtures
- Significant Infraction: Failure to provide adequate pest control
In light of the number and importance of the violations, it's hard to swallow the statement made by Toronto Public Health spokesperson Rishma Govani, as reported yesterday by CTV Toronto. After explaining that conditions in a restaurant can vary radically from day to day, Ms. Govani added,
"Its not unheard of that one day you can pass an inspection and next day you don't."
If this is so, perhaps Toronto Public Health should take a close and critical look at the effectiveness and reliability of its inspection program – and the inspectors who carry it out.