Hamilton public health response to my question: Why was Eat A Pita allowed to remain open?

Earlier story: Public Health inspector failed Eat A Pita on February 9, allowed to remain open

Hamilton’s public health department sent the following statement in response to my questioning why Eat A Pita was allowed to remain open after failing inspection on February 9th.

Public health states “the presence of Critical violations does not represent a “failed” inspection.”

As requested here is a summary of what has transpired with this Food Premise and the related Outbreak.

Food premises are inspected in accordance with the Ontario Public Health Standards. Premises in which a wide range of foods is prepared and there are multiple preparation steps requires 3 inspections per year. Observations made at the time of inspection are recorded as Critical or Non-Critical violations of the Food Premises Regulation.

The presence of Critical violations does not represent a “failed” inspection. Critical violations represent food handling errors that pose a risk of food borne illness. They fall into three broad categories: inadequate cooking and hot/cold holding; opportunity for cross contamination; inadequate hand washing or unnecessary hand contact with food.

Where critical violations are identified, the operator of the premises is given no longer than 48 hours to correct the deficiency. Short-term corrective measures are put in place during this period. In some instances, critical violations are corrected immediately during the inspection and no re-inspection is required.

Critical violations posing a high risk and that can not be immediately be resolved result in closure of the Premises under Section 13 of the HPPA.

February 9th: Routine Inspection of Eat a Pita was conducted. Both Critical and Non-Critical violations were present. All critical violations were corrected during inspection with some non-critical violations remaining and a re-inspection was scheduled for February 15th. This inspection report was posted on Food Safety Zone Website.

February 15th: Non-critical violations were corrected at Eat a Pita. This inspection was conducted to ensure non-critical violations were corrected. The Critical violations from Feb 9th were corrected during inspection on Feb 9th.

February 17th: One confirmed case of Salmonella was reported to Public Health. During the case interview this premises was implicated which resulted in an inspection as per policy. Later that day a second confirmed case was reported which also implicated this premises.

Feb 17th: Inspection resulted in new critical violations related to food handling which were different from the previous inspection and corrected at the time of the inspection.

Feb 18th: Re-inspection to confirm that critical violations were not repeated that were identified on Feb 17th. No Critical or Non-Critical violations were observed at this time.

Evening Feb 22nd : Fourth confirmed case received. All cases indicated Eat a Pita as common source.

Feb 23rd: Inspection occurs at Eat a Pita. Previous critical violations were identified and premises was ordered closed. Staff are working with the operator to ensure understanding of safe food handling practices. Premises will remain closed until requirements of the closure order are met.
Staff will be meeting with legal to discuss pending charges.

All reports pertaining to the inspections and re-inspection will be posted to the website as of Tuesday, February 28th.