Food for Thought: How Some Restaurants in Burnaby Repeatedly Fail Health Inspections

Ashley Moliere, Austin Czerwinski, Daniel Mountain, Josh Kilner and Riley Radiuk / December 7, 2018

Everyone eats out, but not many people look into health infractions to see if where they are eating is safe.
(Ashley Moliere / BCIT News)

Almost everyone living in Metro Vancouver eats in restaurants from time to time. Whether you go frequently or occasionally, almost all of us take the luxury of going to a restaurant for granted.

Have you ever thought about how that food gets to you? Between the storage, refrigeration, preparation, handling and cooking – a lot can go wrong.

Foodborne illnesses (commonly referred to as food poisoning) are a big problem. The procedures that restaurants take in the preparation of food can have a big impact on the likelihood that you leave their restaurant feeling fantastic, or feeling terrible. According to Environmental Services manager for Burnaby and New Westminster for Fraser Health, Gordon Stewart, many of these infractions are avoidable.

Most of the infractions we find are probably going to be human error. People that are not washing their hands when they should be, cross-contaminating food unkowingly.” – Gordon Stewart, Manager of Environmental Services at Fraser Health

Through cross-referencing Tripadvisor, Google reviews and Yelp, we took a look at Burnaby’s top fifty restaurants and did a deep dive into their health inspections. These restaurants were measured by their likeliness of passing along a foodborne illness to a customer. Beyond that, we examined why these problems occur, and why restaurants run into food safety issues in the first place.

38% of Burnaby’s top restaurants repeated the same critical infraction at least 3 times

It could have been any infraction so long as the restaurant violated the same one. It should be noted that it is hard to know from the data if the repeat infraction was for the exact same reason (for example: a refrigeration infraction could be the fridge one day and the salad bar another day).

40 of Burnaby’s top 50 restaurants had at least one critical sanitation infraction

Sanitation violations were almost 40% of all critical infractions measured. Sanitation infractions can be any sanitation issue that could cause a foodborne illness such as utensils containing traces of food or food preparation surfaces not sanitized safely.

There were a total of 292 critical violations

Of the top 50 Burnaby restaurants, there were 292 total critical violations since January 2017. That’s an average of just under 6 violations per restaurant – but Sushi Town (33 violations) inflates the average.

Only four restaurants had 0 critical infractions

The only four restaurants without a critical infraction since January 2017:

  • Atlast Steak and Fish
  • The Pear Tree Restaurant
  • Fraser Park Restaurant
  • Golden Pita

Five restaurants had 10 or more critical infractions

The five restaurants with ten or more critical infractions between January 2017-October 2018 were:

  • Sushi Town (33)
  • Yaguchiya Ramen (14)
  • Chad Thai (13)
  • Little Billy’s Steakhouse (11)
  • Myst Asian Fusion (10)

One restaurant had 33 critical infractions… more than double the next closest.

Sushi Town had 33 critical infractions. Both Sushi Town & second place Yaguchiya were contacted by phone, email & in person, but neither responded before the publication of this article.