Another insect was found in an Asian Gourmet meal. The Underground, baffled, took the role of a suburban mom and asked to “speak to the manager”
By: Ali Javeed, Managing Editor
When questioned about the history of infractions at Asian Gourmet, Shan Lin the Manager lied.
She claimed that the conditional pass received on March 5th, 2018 was because “the organization of the shelves wasn’t organized...it was not related to the vegetables.”
DineSafe, Toronto’s food health and safety program investigated Asian Gourmet in March after a moth was found cooked into a meal, and revealed a host of infractions including: (DineSafe severity rating)
Failure to maintain hazardous foods at appropriate temperature (crucial)
Failure to use proper procedure to ensure food safety (significant)
Failure to use proper utensils (significant)
Failure to properly wash surfaces in the room (minor)
Despite the history of infractions and new violations, Lin insists that the kitchen is at the “Pass” condition. She also assured the Underground that she would contact her vegetable supplier Phon Wah to find out what “vegetables are safe to use”, and will consider “safer” vegetables such as bean sprouts and cucumbers.
After the Underground’s interview, Asian Gourmet was handed an even larger list of infractions on October 15th, 2018 by the city of Toronto:
Failure to protect food from contamination or adulteration (Crucial)
Food premise maintained in manner permitting adverse effect on food (Crucial)
Use of utensils not in good repair (Significant)
Use of handwashing station other than for handwashing of employees (Significant)
Food premise not maintained with food handling room in sanitary condition (Minor)
Use dirty cloth for cleaning food contact surface (Significant)
The vegetables that are in question, are the “Asian Greens” with large leaves such as baby bok choi, wombok (chinese cabbage) or Gai Lan (chinese broccoli). Insects such as moths and larvae that are normally washed out in the preparation stage of the food were instead trapped within the leaves and became part of the cooking process at Asian Gourmet. Lin confirmed that they often find insects in the vegetables but “pick them out” and continue the preparation process of boiling the greens. Blek.
Lin claims the staff “cook a big pile, and give customer a big pile, so we don’t look carefully.” which is alarming considering that she also mentioned that it is common to find bugs in the greens.
Let’s be real. Asian Gourmet is sub-par at best. But due to the dire lack of food options at UTSC, they corner the Asian cuisine market, overshadowing Chopsticks in the MarketPlace which lacks in the location and convenience of Asian Gourmet.
These advantages have made the staff and management of Asian Gourmet too comfortable, why would they strive to uphold a standard when there’s no competition?
Arguably, a place that is open early, stays open late and is frequented by students everyday should be held to additionally stringent standards due to the sheer amount of students they feed.
For this, I call upon our Student Union. Hold Asian Gourmet accountable for the peace of mind of students, and their stomachs - think about all of the insects that weren’t found/reported.
Create a motion to evaluate Asian Gourmet as a vendor, and the effectiveness of their lease in serving the interests of the students. There has always been consistent anecdotal complaints about Asian Gourmet in particular, and in the last 7 months there have been two instances that we know of providing testament to the unsatisfactory quality of the “approved” food vendor.
As students, we already pay absurd amounts of money for tuition, housing, and textbooks in addition to inflated prices for food on campus (yes UofT, we know, and we notice) but in cases like this, we still don’t receive the bare minimum which we pay for - edible food.
Students, make change with your wallet, here is a list of all food places and hours on campus:
*Oct 19, 2018: Official comment from SCSU executives: “The Scarborough Campus Students' Union is disappointed in the incident that occurred at Asian Gourmet, and is currently investigating. In addition, SCSU is reviewing the lease of vendors in the Student Centre”.