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July 25, 2017

The Sixth Fisherman

Province cracks down on popular lobster pound near Peggy's Cove reads the CBC headline.  The article goes on to say that Ryer Lobsters is being closed by Food Safety regulators until they have a washroom, a sewage disposal system and potable water.

This is a topic I happen to know something about, having filed with four others a Human Rights complaint for exactly the same public health reason.  It was twice denied, then allowed on judicial appeal.

This may be an effort to demonstrate stricter enforcement in order to fend off a Human Rights Board of Inquiry, which may be coming soon.  Or it could just be a coincidence.

Probably unknown to the food scientists are the seven exceptions they granted province-wide for businesses similar to Ryer's:
  1. Gorham Eliott & Co, Ltd, Foodshop and Gas Station, Tiverton, Long Island, Digby County
  2. de Molitor Brothers, 4619 Highway 103, Jordan Falls
  3. Parker General Sore, 4181 Hwy 359, Hall's Harbour, King's County
  4. Porter's Farm Market, 627 Belcher Street, Port Williams
  5. Gibson's Kwik Way, 5148 Highway 1, Newport, Hants Co.
  6. Corey's Place Cafe, 3417 Highway 217, Tiverton
  7. Name redacted, 901 Hwy #12, Chester Grant
Each of which  received a letter with variations on this theme:
(a) This facility has been in existence and operating as a Food Establishment since (1905/1945/1917) without running water or approved drainage disposal systems
(b) The installation of these services cannot occur at this time due to other Regulatory restrictions
(c) The facility must alter it's operation so as to offer only prepackaged food for sale
(d) The facility must practice all possible risk reduction through the provision of temporary or portable hand washing facilities designed in consultation with an Food Safety Specialist and ensure that all wastewater collected be disposed of in an approved manner.
Except the last, where employees are permitted to use a washroom in a nearby home.

I know of these because of a FOIPOP filing in the spring of 2015.

Based on the seven exemptions, I think Ryer's could make a strong case of unequal treatment.  Still, they should have a washroom as the regulations demand.
Washroom facilities
20 (1) A food establishment must have washroom facilities for staff and washroom facilities for the public available in a convenient location, unless exempted by the Administrator.
Ryer's Facebook page says they are a restaurant, so it's hard to argue otherwise.  They're probably making a ton of money, so they could afford a washroom and keep the charm.  They might even get a trailer-mounted privy like the Stubborn Goat on the Halifax waterfront.

Still, this seems an odd place to begin.  Have the food safety officials finally accepted the germ theory of disease transmission?  If so, they should start with the many patio restaurants in the province without accessible washrooms which are the subject of our Human Rights complaint.  Like the Five Fisherman.

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