Ciara McCarthy of Patch reports a Chinatown fish market has become the latest Internet sensation. A video filmed by a customer shows a worker climbing on a tray of fish, apparently to reach an electrical box. His boots are seen on top of the fresh produce.
The video was shot at the Hung Fee Food Market, located at 214 Canal St., on Jan. 3 and uploaded to Facebook the next day by April Davidson, she told Patch in a message. It had been viewed nearly 180,000 times as of Tuesday.
“Seriously, seriously, you’re gonna stand there on the food with your boots?” Davidson can be heard asking in the video.
The footage has garnered thousands of shares on Facebook and has spurred hundreds of Yelp reviewers to leave negative comments on the market’s page.
A woman who answered the phone at the fish market said she didn’t speak English and there wasn’t anyone available to comment.
An employee at the store told Pix 11 that the man had been called in to fix an emergency electrical problem and said that all the fish that were stepped on were thrown out before they could be sold.
The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets found “critical deficiencies” at the food market after conducting a review on Monday, spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian told Patch. The state agency dispatched a food safety inspector after seeing the video.
The Hung Kee Food Market was assigned a “C” grade for its sanitary conditions, Koumjian said. The state will conduct a follow-up inspection at the market in the near future.
“The food safety inspector also addressed the consumer complaint regarding an individual standing on fresh fish,” Koumjian said in a statement.
“Management stated that a contractor, who was hired to repair an emergency electrical issue, stood directly on a fish display to access the electrical panel. Management has since instructed employees on proper access for electrical panels without jeopardizing product integrity and wholesomeness.”
Some Yelp reviewers came to the shop’s defense in the wake of the internet backlash.
One man, who identified himself on Yelp as “Sailor J.” wrote, “Ok, I’ve been on the ocean for 30+ years… Have ANY of you freaksouts (who’ve likely never even been to this market) ever seen the deck of a typical commercial fishing boat when operating in full gear?” he wrote in his review. “The bottom of this guys shoes is, by far, not the nastiest thing these fish have touched.”
The co-franchisee of a Carl’s Jr. in central Alberta was, according to Carolyn Dunn of CBC News, temporarily barred from his own restaurant’s kitchen after a host of unhygienic behaviours that even “shocked” a public health inspector.
Jack Webb was captured on in-store security video at the Red Deer restaurant without gloves, forearm deep in a large container, mixing a batch of barbecue sauce for Carl’s Jr. burgers.
That was the first of no fewer than 10 food safety violations caught on video, which was exclusively obtained by CBC News.
Andrew Minnes, the former manager of the restaurant, blew the whistle on Webb to health authorities and CBC.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. If he wasn’t an owner, he would have been fired instantly. There wouldn’t even have been a debate,” Minnes told CBC News from his home in Airdrie, Alta.
Minnes says it was conscientious kitchen staff who initially alerted him to the “gross” infractions.
He says he approached Webb about the complaints.
“His reaction was, ‘I’m the owner’ and then ‘Too bad.’ He made it clear to the staff as well that they don’t say anything, ‘Don’t talk about what I’m doing, I do what I feel like doing.'”
So Minnes began playing undercover detective in the restaurant he managed until May 2017, recording the screen of the CCTV that overlooked the kitchen.
Minnes says he never planned to take the footage public — he just wanted to show it to the other co-franchisee so the issue would be addressed.
“He just ignored me. He didn’t want to deal with it. ‘Complicit,’ I guess is the word.”
Minnes had surreptitiously captured 10 videos of serious food safety regulation infractions on his cellphone.
During the barbecue sauce mixing video, a staffer goes as far as offering Webb a spoon — which his boss refuses and continues mixing with his hand and forearm, before scraping the accumulated barbecue sauce off his arm back into the container.
Domenic Pedulla, the CEO at the Canada Food Safety Group, shook his head while watching the video clips. “Bare hand contact with ready to eat food is not OK. This is where we want to use tongs, gloves.”
Webb didn’t use tongs or gloves in any of the videos.
CBC News approached Webb for comment at his Red Deer restaurant. He asked us to wait for an interview for several hours.
“We’re going to give a response,” Webb assured the CBC.
In the end, the response came via a statement from Carl’s Jr. Canada, which said it found out about the infractions in April and the video earlier this month.
The popular U.S. fast food restaurant, which has been trying to expand its franchise footprint in Canada since 2011 called the “improper food handling behaviour … unacceptable and (that it) in no way, represents Carl’s Jr.’s commitment to safe food handling.”
Carly McKinnon, who owns the Press’d The Sandwich Company franchise next to Carl’s Jr., told Paul Cowley of the Red Deer Advocate she used the CBC-obtained video showing food safety violations at Carl’s as a training exercise.
“I showed it. (I said) this is what happens. People are always watching,” said McKinnon, who also owns a Press’d franchise in Leduc.
“I’m sharing it with my staff. I just want to make sure they’re stepping it up.”
McKinnon said new employees are always given extensive training in food safety before they begin their jobs.
Everyone’s got a camera, consumers are asking more about food safety, so quit the bickering and get ahead of the curve.
A shopping mall in Hongkou district of China had digital screens installed at the front doors of its restaurants to broadcast real-time scenes from inside their kitchens, the Jiefang Daily reported. According to Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Supervision Administration, the mall’s live streaming is a pilot for the new transparent kitchens and stoves project promoted by the local authority. Liu Jun, an official from Hongkou District Market Supervision and Management Bureau, said that other information such as business licenses and health certificates may also be presented on the screens. Mobile phone applications that contribute to food safety will also be utilized. “With these food-safety applications, citizens can have more access to what ingredients are used and where leftovers go,” Zhang Lei, an official from Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Supervision Administration said.
I’ve long been an advocate of electronics and digital monitoring for improving food safety outcomes.
But only with clear objectives and limits.
In Oman, cameras have been installed on a trial basis at different restaurants located at tourist spots, butcher shops and slaughterhouses in a bid to maintain hygiene standards.
“The aim is to keep an online tab on food processing,” the ministry said.
Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Shehhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, said the project enjoys full confidentiality guaranteed by the laws to all of the information including visual and non-visual data of food establishments.
The video also appears to show pigs with puss-filled abscesses being sent down the line. Others are covered in feces.
“If the USDA is around, they could shut us down,” says a worker, wearing a bright yellow apron, standing over the production line.
The graphic video — available on YouTube in an edited form — was covertly filmed by a contracted employee of Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit animal rights group that claims to have infiltrated an Austin, Minn., facility run by Quality Pork Processors (QPP), a supplier of Hormel Foods, the maker of Spam and other popular processed meats. The group has turned over the 97-minute unedited video to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has raised serious concerns about the conditions at the QPP facility and pledged a thorough investigation. A reporter has also seen the full-length video provided by the group.
“The actions depicted in the video under review are appalling and completely unacceptable, and if we can verify the video’s authenticity, we will aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action,” said USDA spokesman Adam Tarr, adding that the agency can’t comment definitively in the middle of the probe.
QPP, which has seen both the edited and unedited versions, says the edited film makes it look as though there were violations when, in fact, there were none.
“Early on, there may very well be contamination present in the process, but we have multiple interventions that ensure that it will not only be visually removed, but completely removed,” said Nate Jansen, who is the vice president of human resources and quality services at QPP. “Had it been allowed to show the entire sequence of these events, all of these hogs were all handled appropriately.”
To gain access to the QPP facility, the Compassion Over Killing contractor applied for five months for jobs at meat processing companies and was eventually hired at QPP. Compassion Over Killing requested the person’s name not be disclosed because he still works at QPP, but showed a pay stub indicating employment there. The person did not describe on his job applications his affiliation with the activist group.
“I don’t think you can look at the video along with the USDA guidelines and say that QPP is following the law,” said Ted Genoways, the author of “The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food,” and has seen the video but is not associated with the group. “This plant is the symbol of everything that is wrong with the meat industry.”
In particular, the video shines a light on a government-approved pilot program, known as the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), which allows processors like QPP to assume more responsibility over the inspection process.
The company is one of five pork processors participating in the HIMP program, which the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) first launched in the late 1990s. As part of the initiative, the government substantially changed the way it oversees meat production, more than doubling the number of safety checks (from 11 to 24) within a facility and reallocating government inspectors to focus more closely on food safety. The goal, as stated on the agency’s Web site, was to “produce a flexible, more efficient, fully integrated” system.
In the HIMP inspection model, three government inspectors are stationed on the production line, compared to the usual seven who oversee the handling of carcasses in the traditional system. In both, an additional offline inspector is free to move around. The reduction in government inspectors dedicated to checking hogs on the line has allowed the government to save money by reducing its inspection force. It has also allowed plants to increase their line speed — on average, participants in the pilot program process roughly 120 extra hogs per hour, according to the USDA.
The USDA speaks highly of the program, which it has repeatedly defended. “Obviously, we believe that the model is an appropriate one,” said Phil Derfler, the deputy administrator at FSIS. “That’s why we went ahead with the rule-making in order to adopt it — it’s an improvement on the traditional system.”
But Lisa Winebarger, who serves as a legal counsel to Compassion Over Killing and helped bring the investigation to the USDA, said QPP is violating those directives.
“I understand that QPP is denying any wrongdoing, but we can assure you that much of what we have documented are serious problems labeled as ‘egregious inhumane treatment’ and ‘egregious noncompliances'” by the government’s directives, she said.
Passersby have clicked pictures of rats running on food containers and have posted them on the social media, enraging many and some vowing never to eat at the venue.
One resident took on the social media and complained that he got sick after eating at that particular place.
The restaurant did not respond to emails sent by this website. However, master developer Nakheel, the operator of Ibn Battuta Mall, was quick to confirm that it is aware of the issue and has already taken action.
“We are aware of this issue and have taken immediate action to rectify the situation, including alerting the appropriate authorities,” a Nakheel spokesperson told Emirates 24|7.
“This restaurant is a standalone establishment located outside the mall itself, and, under the terms and conditions of its contract, is responsible for its own health, safety and hygiene management. As mall operator, our role is to ensure that such obligations are met,” the Nakheel spokesperson added.
An interminable proverbial snag linked with our industry has been the unwillingness to be transparent. Keeping all communication channels wide-open is always the prudent passageway for companies to take.
Full and unabridged transparency, indelibly evinces a company’s veracity and intent to run ones business within defined demarcation lines of legality and integrity.
An adopted full transparency stance projects to the PETA’s of the world, including the susceptible public, that when egregious acts to livestock occur – and they do – that it’s going to be corrected in a timely manner with future preventive actions planned, documented and executed in order to preclude a similar occurrence in the future.
Cut! Case closed. That’s a take.
I like video cameras at meat and poultry plants.
That is, if a company makes it a policy to share video footage.
Video cameras are an exceptional all-around deterrent as well as a useful tool for plant security, occupational safety, human resources, quality assurance, production efficacy, HACCP and SSOP Systems, and the humane handling of livestock.
I’ve written in the past how the USDA can shut down slaughter plants entire operations in a nanosecond with leaving no recourse for the establishment to stay open.
If a slaughter company has video cameras in place, their recordings could help preclude a plant closure, truncate NR’s, while making the USDA inspector think 3 or 4 times on her/his sometimes subjective call involving egregious treatment of livestock.
If a slaughter company is equipped with video cameras and they really want to claim fame to having the USDA’s proclaimed robust humane handling program, then sharing video footage from the continuum of receiving livestock to the shackling and sticking stages of a slaughter HACCP flow chart is a must.
Like it or not, video cameras in one form, (smart phones) or another, (hidden fiber-optic cameras) are here to stay. They’re never going away.
Ask PETA or HSUS’ Oscar winning undercover cameramen, (and women) under the category of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir cinematography if they’d like your company having well-managed video cameras.
They don’t. It’s the last thing they want.
But if you do have video cameras, and you fail to share your video recordings, then you’re doing precisely what they’re hoping you’d do. You’re promulgating suspicion that you’re hiding something.
Today, many food folks are held hostage by their worst employees, agenda-oriented foodies, and their own stupidity.
Whether it’s a restaurant inspection, a farm, a slaughterhouse, provide that data to the public; I don’t care who does it, as long as it’s open to public scrutiny by mere mortals. Sorta what Jefferson was getting at when he said,
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education.”
Activists of all types may suck at science but are successful when it comes to street theater, attracting attention, on-line or in the park.
The Los Angeles Times reports the folks at Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) found a way to get people to watch disturbing animal cruelty videos: pay them.
Operating on the premise that watching a four-minute video could persuade a viewer to drastically and permanently reduce the amount of animal products consumed in their diet, FARM launched a national tour in early May to show the public a graphic “Farm to Fridge” video, made with hidden-camera footage showing farm animals, including cows, chickens and pigs, living in factory farm conditions and being processed at slaughter. Participants are paid $1 to watch the video, displayed on a vehicle specially equipped to host up to 32 simultaneous viewers.
The 10-Billion Lives Tour (named after the estimated 10 billion land animals raised and killed every year for food in the United States) began in Portland, Ore., and has traveled south, stopping at colleges, universities and fairs along the way in Eugene, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.
In conditions similar to the Iowa egg farms involved in the 2010 salmonella-in-eggs outbreak – without the salmonella outbreak – the Humane Society of the U.S. plans to release on Thursday the results of an undercover investigation into Kreider Farms, which produces 4.5 million eggs each day for supermarkets like ShopRite.
Nicholas Kristof writes in today’s N.Y. Times that he’s reviewed footage and photos taken by the investigator, who says he worked for Kreider between January and March of this year. In an interview, he portrayed an operation that has little concern for cleanliness or the welfare of hens.
“It’s physically hard to breathe because of the ammonia” rising from manure pits below older barns, said the investigator, who would not allow his name to be used because that would prevent him from taking another undercover job in agriculture. He said that when workers needed to enter an older barn, they would first open doors and rev up exhaust fans, and then rush in to do their chores before the fumes became overwhelming.
Mice sometimes ran down egg conveyer belts, barns were thick with flies and manure in three barns tested positive for salmonella, he said. (Actually, salmonella isn’t as rare as you might think, turning up in 3 percent of egg factory farms tested by the Food and Drug Administration last year.)
In some cases, 11 hens were jammed into a cage about 2 feet by 2 feet. The Humane Society says that that is even more cramped than the egg industry’s own voluntary standards — which have been widely criticized as inadequate.
“These allegations by the Humane Society are a gross distortion of Kreider Farms, our employees and the way we care for birds,” Ron Kreider, the president of Kreider Farms, told me in a statement. He acknowledged that three barns had tested positive for salmonella but said that consumers were never endangered.
“The reality of food processing can be off-putting to those not familiar with animal agriculture,” added Kreider, the third-generation family leader of the company. “When dealing with millions of birds, there is always a small percentage of dead birds. Older-style chicken houses will inherently contain a level of fly and rodent activity.” Kreider added that his company was leading the industry in replacing old barns with state-of-the-art.