Pretty safe: How safe are food courts in Montreal?

With a team of microbiologists from McGill University, CBC Montreal Investigates/Radio-Canada conducted tests for bacteria on tables, trays and garbage bins at four different shopping centres in the Montreal area: Fairview Pointe-Claire, the Eaton Centre, Complexe Desjardins and Champlain Mall. team found no evidence of bacteria which could cause serious food-borne illnesses such as E.coli, salmonella or listeria.

Nevertheless, lead microbiologist Lawrence Goodridge said he was surprised at the sheer variety of bacteria present.

His team noted some instances of the same bacteria present on both the flaps of garbage bins and trays.

“[It] suggests to me that when the consumers touch the flaps with the trays, this material’s getting on there,” Goodridge said, adding that malls should get rid of bins with flaps on them.

He also said consumers could also help themselves by using disinfectant wipes to clean the tables and trays prior to use. 

CBC shared the test results with an independent expert who took no part in the study — Montreal Children’s Hospital epidemiologist Caroline Quach.

Quach said she could find no risk to public safety.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time