Everyone’s got a camera: Rats in Sydney restaurants edition

The City of Sydney has blamed a recent rise in rat sightings across the CBD on “unprecedented” construction work, as two restaurants in as many weeks had to close to deal with rodents.

The Sydney Westfield storefront of popular Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung voluntarily closed on Thursday after a video surfaced of a rat scurrying around its kitchen area.

Din Tai Fung are in damage control after vision showed a large rat in their kitchen in at their Westfield Sydney outlet.

Sydney resident Lucy Hui, who posted the video and tagged Din Tai Fung Australia in the post, said it was sent to her.

“Makes me want to vomit,” she wrote. “Never eating there again….and it was a favourite.”

Her post prompted the restaurant chain to reply in the comments with an apology and assurance that “we immediately activated our pest control specialists as well as professional cleaners to inspect and disinfect our premises as a priority.

“We are also conducting thorough investigations and improving measures in pest defence during post-operations hours. This is important as we already clean, disinfect and secure the kitchen on a daily basis, yet it’s clear we can do even better.”

The chain apologised “for the situation” in a statement on Thursday.

“Food safety is of utmost importance to us and we would like to state our unwavering commitment to this, and to thank our customers for their support and understanding.”

A spokesman for the City of Sydney said an environmental health officer inspected the restaurant on Thursday morning and was informed by staff that the business had voluntarily shut down.

The Din Tai Fung video appeared just days after an Oporto restaurant in Sydney voluntarily closed after a social media video showed multiple rats scurrying around inside.

Despite the city’s “comprehensive pest control program”, rats are somewhat a fact of life in inner Sydney.

And in a reminder that everyone does have a camera, this school principal has been fired after this video appeared of him dragging a naughty 9-year-old off to the office, I guess.

Everyone’s got a camera: Rat infestation shuts down Sydney fast food store

Popular fast food chain Oporto has been forced to close the doors of one of its Sydney outlets after it was revealed the store had a horrendous rat infestation.

Footage posted to Facebook by Vijay Kumar shows large rats running around the store, leaping on counters and scurrying into the kitchen of the Broadway fast food outlet.

“This one goes out to all the Oporto lovers out there! Think zillion times before you walk again into this place,” Mr Kumar wrote along with the video.

“Todays Special — Spicy Gluten free Rat burgers!”

Craveable Brands, which owns Oporto, Red Rooster and Chicken Treat, told news.com.au that it shut the store down as soon as the company became aware of the video on January 17.

“Oporto stores across Australia maintain rigorously high sanitation standards. This is a one-off situation related to a single store in Broadway, Sydney,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Vermin appear to have been dislocated by external construction activity in the Broadway area, which can lead to increased activity for surrounding businesses. Vermin appear to have accessed the Broadway restaurant via a ventilation hole, or other access point from outside.”

Everyone’s got a camera: Wendy’s in Oklahoma edition

Tristen Land of 6 On the Scene reports a video shared on social media shows a mouse inside a bag of hamburger buns at a Wendy’s restaurant in Catoosa and now corporate is investigating.

Employees say they not only found the mice disturbing but also the cigarettes left on the counters at their sandwich stations. Now they believe something needs to be done.

Especially if the mice were smoking.

“I go in and I see it’s moving around in the bag and you can see like rat feces and all that and it was just disgusting,” said Skylar Frame.

Skylar was at work yesterday when she says she saw mice racing through the buns. She says her coworkers reported it to a manager but were told to continue serving customers.

“I was like what am I supposed to do with the buns and she’s like take the stack, take it down and go use some other buns,” Said fellow employee Samantha Nibbelink.

“There was no stopping, so we had to keep going.” Said employee Vincent Vang.

Today the restaurant was open to customers. Wendy’s sent us this statement, saying in part,

“We immediately launched an investigation with our pest control vendor and internal quality assurance experts to ensure immediate and appropriate action is taken. We have stringent procedures in place to ensure a safe and well-maintained restaurant.”

Uh-huh.

Everyone’s got a camera: NYC-market-worker-boot-on-fish edition

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.”

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.

 

Restaurants in China mall adopts live streaming for food safety

Everyone’s got a camera, consumers are asking more about food safety, so quit the bickering and get ahead of the curve.

blade-runner-foodA 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.

Everyone has a camera: Food-safety-in-Oman edition

I’ve long been an advocate of electronics and digital monitoring for improving food safety outcomes.

Video-camera-1024x600But 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.

Guidelines are nice, enforcement? Undercover video at Hormel Foods facility

An undercover video taken at one of the nation’s largest pork producers shows pigs being dragged across the floor, beaten with paddles, and sick to the point of immobility. By law, pigs are supposed to be rendered unconscious before being killed, but many are shown writhing in apparent pain while bleeding out, suggesting that they weren’t properly stunned. “That one was definitely alive,” a worker says.

an.welfareThe 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.

Residents spot rodents in restaurant at mall in Dubai

Everyone’s got a video camera these days, and they like to use them.

rat.restaurant.dubai.feb.15Pictures have emerged of rodents running loose in a restaurant located right outside a popular mall in Dubai.

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.

rat.restaurant.dubai.2.15“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.