It’s been one heck of a week for a Vancouver restaurant accused of serving a bowl of chowder with a dead rat in it.
The alleged incident occurred on December 27, 2018, at Crab Park Chowdery, a local spot for soups and chowders that opened in 2017.
After the accusation, video, and graphic photo of the bowl were posted on Instagram, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) investigated both Crab Park Chowdery and the basement commissary kitchen where its soup is made off-site. This kitchen is owned by Mamie Taylor’s, a restaurant that operates directly above the commissary.
The investigations concluded with Crab Park Chowdery being cleared to operate, and VCH inspectors finding evidence of a rodent issue in the form of droppings in Mamie Taylor’s commissary kitchen.
Subsequently, the restaurant and kitchen were closed pending a second visit from Health Authorities on the morning of December 29, after which both spaces were reopened.
Mamie Taylor’s owner Ron Oliver has since publically cut ties with Crab Park Chowdery, saying “the unfortunate incident has made clear to us that we cannot rely on those businesses who lease our commissary kitchen to uphold the same standard of excellence as Mamie Taylor’s. As such, we will no longer lease commissary kitchen space to other restaurants and have severed business ties with Crab Park Chowdery.”
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On January 1, 2019, Crab Park Chowdery released a statement regarding the situation, saying the restaurant conducted a “full investigation” and that the “investigation concludes this incident did not happen.”
“We’ve conducted a full investigation into the recently reported incident of a rodent allegedly making its way into our prepared food and have unequivocally concluded there is no way this incident could have happened in our kitchen or as a result of any actions by our staff prior to being prepared and served,” reads the statement.
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Public health inspection reports from Vancouver Coastal Health show that Crab Park has not historically always been in compliance with sanitary food handling and been able to show successfully that the premises is free of pests.
These reports range from April 2017 to October 2018, with the most recent critical infraction being that the “Equipment, utensils and/or food contact surfaces are not in a condition that ensures safe and sanitary food handling” on October 11, 2018.
Vancouver Coastal Health Authority also noted there were signs of rodents during an inspection in February 2018.
“Premises has signs of rodent activity. Premises is not protected from the entrance of pests. Conditions on premises may lead to harbouring/breeding of pests,” the report stated.
An inspector also found the “dishwasher does not provide sufficient washing and/or sanitizing action to remove contamination.”
Crab Park holds their food safety and procedures are up to standard, and also included an open invitation for people to “tour our facilities to see for yourself.”
“If any questions remain we implore you to come down and see our operation first hand, the safety measures in place and to meet our staff,” the restaurant said. “You will see for yourself just how much we all love what we do, our commitment to excellence and why we are so loved by the community.”