Health inspection report of kitchen linked to rat-in-soup video details rodent excrement, unsanitary conditions

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      After a viral video was released of a rat found in a soup in a Gastown eatery, a health-inspection report has revealed further details about the conditions of the kitchen that the chowder was prepared in.

      The controversy began when a video was posted on Instagram on December 27 that captured a diner at Crab Park Chowdery (221 Abbott Street) in Gastown pulling a dead rat out of chowder.

      The video prompted Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) to inspect the commissary kitchen (at 251 East Georgia Street) in Chinatown where the chowder was made.

      Crab Park Chowdery was permitted to remain open while Mamie Taylor’s, which operated the commissary kitchen in the basement but did not use it for food preparation for its own restaurant, was shut down by VCH on December 28. After the staff addressed issues of concern, the restaurant was greenlit to open the next day. On December 29, Mamie Taylor’s announced it would no longer be renting out the kitchen space to other restaurants and had severed ties with Crab Park Chowdery.

      Crab Park Chowdery owner Ashton Phillips claimed that they had conducted tests to replicate cooking and serving with a dead rat in it, and Phillips was reported as stating that the rat remained visible at all stages of the process.

      However, the two individuals involved in the video asserted in news reports that the video was not staged.

      A screenshot of the video posted on social media in December depicting a rat found in soup served at Crab Park Chowdery.

      However, after filing a freedom of information request, CBC News obtained a Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) inspection report of their December 28 visit to the commissary kitchen that reveals the condition of the venue.

      CBC reported today (March 26) that the VCH report  (which CBC News posted on their website) states that the chowder prepared in the kitchen was “unfit for human consumption” and that the kitchen had general “poor” sanitation. Phillips had been instructed to discard all food prepared at the kitchen.

      According to the report, inspectors reported finding excrement from mice and other rodents in the walk-in cooler and food preparation and storage areas. Also, a “thick accumulation of rodent excrement and accumulated debris” was found on plumbing lines above the cooking equipment.

      Inspectors found that tubs of chowder placed in the walk-in cooler remained uncovered. The report also states that there was no hand-washing sink, no fumehood canopy, and a prep table was underneath a sewer line. During the inspection, a cockroach was witnessed running over Phillips’ head.  

      Two VCH inspections had been conducted in 2018 prior to the December 28 shut down.

      On July 28, 2018, VCH inspectors had found three critical infractions including unsanitary conditions, insufficient dishwashing and sanitation to prevent contamination (which was corrected during the inspection), and signs of rodent activity. Food was also seized during the inspection.

      On September 12, 2018, a violation ticket was issued during a followup inspection as the premises continued to fail to comply with standards that would ensure safe and sanitary food handling.

      A January 21 VCH followup inspection found that the establishment was in compliance, including being pest-free, with one non-critical infraction of temperature records not being used to monitor critical limits.

      Despite a crowdfunding campaign launched to financially assist Crab Park Chowdery due to declining revenue in the wake of the viral video, the eatery announced it would shut down on January 20.

      However, Crab Park Chowdery continues to operate a food truck which is located at 675 Granville Street at West Georgia Street.

      The Georgia Straight has contacted Crab Park Chowdery for comment and is awaiting a response.