Everyone’s got a camera: Carl’s Jr. in Alberta outed by former manager

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.


Microbial food safety – what makes people barf — doesn’t have a chance

Burger-mania is set to hit Australia again tomorrow, as the controversial American burger chain Carl’s Jr opens its first Australian store on the NSW Central Coast.

food.porn.jan.16Carl’s Jr has set up shop in Bateau Bay near The Entrance, next to McDonald’s, and is offering a year’s worth of free burgers to the first 50 people through the door on Tuesday.

It’s a publicity stunt set to rival that of fellow US burger chain In-N-Out, which opened a four-hour pop-up restaurant in Surry Hills last month and sold out of product half an hour before the store opened.

In an ice machine too: Roach infestation forces closure of A-rated Carl’s Jr. in Calif.

Kern health officials, acting on a customer complaint, have shut down a Bakersfield Carl’s Jr. restaurant because of a cockroach infestation observed months ago by a county inspector who nevertheless issued the fast-food place an “A” rating.

carl's jrThe corporate-owned restaurant on Real Road south of California Avenue was found Monday to be harboring a “severe” infestation, with numerous cockroaches alive and dead, as well as insect eggs, feces and a multi-generational population suggesting roaches were breeding at the site, county environmental health Director Donna Fenton said.

“When we see that type of infestation, our concern is that they can contaminate food contact surfaces, utensils, food packaging — they can even get into the food itself,” said Fenton, who added the county typically closes a couple of restaurants every year because of cockroach infestations.

When the county visited the same Carl’s Jr. July 9, its inspector noted a “vermin infestation” evident by live roaches in the grill area and in an ice machine, among other lesser violations, according to a county report posted online.

cockroach.burgerThe facility earned a score of 91 percent, not as good as the 93.5 percent it received in March but better than its 90 percent score from Dec. 30. In each case the restaurant won an “A” grade, based on its overall points tally.

Fenton said the infestation the county observed in July was not seen as overly problematic because the restaurant had been treated by pest control specialists the night before, and it appeared the roaches were dying. Also, the report asserted the infestation was confined to a limited area.

The county went out again Monday after a customer reported seeing a cockroach on a wall of the restaurant, among other violations, Fenton said.

The restaurant will stay closed until its owner, Carpinteria-based CKE Restaurants Inc., finishes what Fenton called a “deep cleaning,” including steam-cleaning, sealing of cracks and other maintenance. She said the location won’t be allowed to reopen until after it passes a county re-inspection.

CKE declined to answer questions including what had been done to prevent and then address the infestation reported in July. The company issued this written statement: “The health and safety of our customers and employees is always our top priority. We took immediate action to deal with this situation and expect to re-open the location very soon.”

Douglas Powell, a former professor of food safety at Kansas State University who now publishes articles on the subject at barfblog.com, said cockroaches can carry dangerous bacteria and viruses, and that it is the responsibilities of restaurant operators, not government agencies, to ensure food safety. He cautioned against putting too much faith in government inspection reports, which he said represent ”a snapshot in time.“

”Cockroaches are going to be around,“ he said. ”It’s up to the restaurant to take steps to mitigate that.“

And everyone has a camera.

Food porn trumps food science, again: Carl’s Jr. to sell grass-fed burgers

For years, Carl’s Jr. has stuck to a tried-and-tested method to market its hamburgers: Enlist blond women (in one case, for equality, a brown-haired male) to peddle them—in slow motion—on TV. But it seems that sex is no longer enough to sell the American fast-food staple.

carls-jrOn Dec. 17, the California-based chain will roll out the All-Natural Burger at all of its 1,150 stores, most of them on the West Coast. It contains no hormones, no antibiotics, no steroids—and it’s sourced from free-range, grass-fed cows for the affordable price of $4.69 for a single patty and $6.99 for a double. Carl’s Jr. will be the first major fast-food chain to feature a “natural” burger on its menu, according to USA Today.

CKE Restaurants, the chain’s parent company, made the decision after the burgers proved popular at a trial run in Los Angeles last summer. Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr.’s sister brand, plans to test the menu item in the Midwest market soon.

As much as foodies or animal rights advocates might like to take credit, the company says the move wasn’t at all political.

“Our objective has never been to tell people what to eat, but to serve them what they want to eat,” CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder told USA Today.