The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Campus food vendor Treats faces the most health violations in Saskatoon

By in Sports & Health
A student reads the menu at Treats in the U of S food court of lower level Place Riel on Jan. 20, 2020. | Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor

The franchise located in Lower Place Riel amassed 79 infractions over a three-year period, but public inspection reports show that Treats has been addressing the government’s concerns.

CBC Saskatoon recently published a story investigating the Saskatchewan government’s decision to not fine any restaurants in the province in favour of educating business owners. Since 2017, 31,700 health violations have been issued in the province.

In the article, Li Zhang, the owner of the campus Treats locale since 2014, is reported saying that most of the issues have been addressed. Zhang claims the remaining violations could only be resolved by renovating the restaurant, which the Davis Group, owners of the Treats franchise, has reportedly been putting off.

The Sheaf attempted to contact Zhang but he was unavailable for an interview. 

The smartphone app Tomati, which shows a restaurant’s health violations and a ranking out of 100, gave Treats a score of zero. Tomati ranked 22 other Saskatoon restaurants the health score of zero, but Treats also has the most health violations in the city.

Comparatively, the Little Saigon 2 restaurant in Regina had the most infractions in the province with 118 violations. Its owner also claimed financial barriers were preventing addressing some of the issues outlined by health inspectors. 

The average Tomati health score for the five other businesses in Lower Place Riel is 90. Louis’ has the second lowest rating on campus with a score of 42 and has been issued 24 health violations since 2017 but got no infractions on its Nov. 13, 2019 inspection.

With Louis’ and Treats both showing improvement, based on the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health’s public inspection reports, this approach to educate restaurateurs instead of fining them could actually be an effective way to improve health standards.

The SMH inspectors issue notices when they observe an infraction of Saskatchewan’s Public Eating Establishment Standards or The Food Safety Regulations. In 2017, Treats accumulated 10 infractions during two routine and two follow-up inspections. 

Treats’ worst year on record for being in “non-compliance” with health standards was 2018 when it received 51 violations in nine inspections. In the Sept. 19 inspection alone, the restaurant had 14 infractions, more than in the entirety of 2017.

Although Treats still received 18 infractions in 2019, the reports show that the restaurant made significant improvements. Throughout 2019, Treats did address the majority of the issues, as Zhang stated to CBC, and only two infractions were reported during their most recent inspection held on December 3.

The first of these remaining issues has been a recurring infraction for Treats, first identified in September 2018, and accounts for nine of their total violations. Inspectors report that “Walls in the rooms where food is prepared, packaged, stored or received are not easily cleaned, durable, impervious, light in colour, smooth, non-toxic, and non-corrosive.”

Treats’ recurring violation of having improper “Finishing Materials” could be what Zhang was referring to when discussing the need for renovations to address the remaining concerns. However, the Sheaf was not able to confirm Zhang’s statement about the Davis Group’s complacency towards doing the proposed renovation.

The other remaining infraction is “Manual Dishwashing” and refers to non-compliance to the appropriate 3-step manual dishwashing method. Possible reasons could be that Treats is either not following this method or lacks a proper sink with three separate basins, which could also be resolved by renovating.

The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union are the proprietors of Lower Place Riel. They declined to discuss their contract with Treats based on confidentiality reasons, but they provided a prepared statement. 

“The USSU is aware of the situation involving Treats and continues to work with the head office and the franchisee to address any outstanding issues. Our students’ well-being is our primary concern, and we maintain constant contact with all our tenants to ensure they adhere to the food safety policy,” the USSU said.

Treats’ lease term in Lower Place Riel reportedly expires in 2021. Whether the franchise will complete the renovations before the end date of the contract or choose to renew its lease with the USSU, is still unknown.

Noah Callaghan/ Staff Writer

Photo: Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor

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