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Calgary Booster Juice was using countertop cleaner to wash fruits and veggies



An Alberta Health Services inspection last week found a northwest Calgary Booster Juice was using countertop cleaner to wash fruits and vegetables.

On Dec. 30, inspectors found the smoothie bar in Crowfoot Crossing was using Sani-Stuff — a powerful benzalkonium chloride cleaner for sanitizing hard surfaces like countertops and equipment — to wash food.

They also found that Windex and stain remover were being stored in the Sani-Stuff bottles, wheatgrass planters were being stored near ready-to-eat-fruits and veggies, and no probe thermometer was being used to ensure foods were being kept at the right temperatures.

The restaurant was ordered to:

Stop using non-food-safe cleaners to wash food.
Provide a thermometer.
Store wheatgrass on a bottom shelf to prevent contamination.
And re-label bottles to identify what chemicals are inside.
Sani-Stuff's website states the chemical should only be used to disinfect hard surfaces in locations like restaurants or hospitals, and that it could cause severe skin burns and eye damage and should not be inhaled.

An AHS spokesperson said the Booster Juice location has complied with the orders and the inspection was the result of a tip from the public.

"The amount of sanitizer that could have come into contact with food was at a very low concentration and did not present a significant health concern," reads a statement from AHS.

"Booster Juice management were extremely co-operative and took immediate steps to ensure the proper use of the disinfectant at all of its locations. EPH investigates all complaints received and appreciates the public bringing forward concerns about improper food handling practices so these concerns can be properly investigated."

Booster Juice said employees at the location are going through re-training and all violations will be addressed. The company said the cleaning sanitizer is diluted, and used to clean utensils as well, but never should have been used to clean fruits or vegetables even though the concentration meant it didn't pose harm to customers.

"When an incident that does not uphold our brand standards is identified, we act quickly to ensure that the issue is resolved," said Booster Juice's president and CEO Dale Wishewan in an emailed statement.

"We can assure consumers that this is not a company wide issue. When a location does not adhere to our strict food handling procedures by following our checklists or using the tools readily available in our stores, it is dealt with right away, as we take food handling very seriously."

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