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Health Unit delivers first-ever food safety A grade

The Health Unit's new food safety grading system for local restaurants has officially launched.
Medical officer of health, Dr. Janet DeMille presented the first scorecard in the city to Myhanh Nguyen from Chinese Express.

THUNDER BAY – A new food safety and cleanliness grading system has awarded its first A grade.

Alterations to Thunder Bay’s licensing bylaws require businesses who serve food to the public to post a scorecard displaying their most recent food inspection grade for the public to view.

The Thunder Bay Health Unit launched its new DineWise food safety program Wednesday by presenting its first scorecard to the owners and staff of Chinese Express.

Myhanh Nguyen proudly placed a pre-printed green sign with the letter grade A on the restaurants window.

“It feels amazing to put it out there that we are the first ones to get the (grade) A,” Nguyen said.

“Food safety, cleanliness and sanitation are our number one priority and to be recognized for that is a great reward for sure.”

The program involves health inspectors scoring restaurants on food safety and cleanliness followed by a sign posting with the corresponding grade to be displayed in the entrances and pick-up windows.

It was created to improve compliance with food safety standards and legislation with a goal of reducing the risk of foodborne illness.

“I think it’s a great idea…as I have said I think food sanitation, cleanliness and the safety of the food is our number one priority and by having this program it lets our customers know and be confident eating here,” Nguyen said.

The Chinese Express staff are constantly cleaning and have received numerous compliments on the cleanliness of the restaurant over the years.

Nguyen took the food safety course and it helped her learn how to maintain and keep a clean restaurant.

“We want the restaurant to have the image of a very clean restaurant that makes food safety a priority.”

Environmental health programs manager Lee Sieswerda said the program’s goal is to encourage restaurants to aim for higher standards.

During the inspection restaurants will begin with a score of 100 and the inspectors will go through a list of possible infractions that the restaurant must follow and points are deducted for each infraction.

Restaurants will be given a grade of A, B, C or D after the inspection is complete.

“The C’s and D’s are coloured yellow,” Sieswerda said. “What we are going to do is they are going to be on an enhanced inspection schedule.”

Sieswerda said rather than having an inspection once every year they will be inspected three times for three months to ensure restaurants rise a higher standard.

All food premises are broken up into risk factors, so it’s based on complexity.

The more complex food properties are considered high risk and they are inspected three times a year, a modern risk would be inspected twice a year and low risk places are only inspected once a year.

Sieswerda said by the end of this year all Thunder Bay licensed eating establishments will have a scorecard exposed to the public.