Tag Archives: Toronto Public Health”

Eat Your Words: Toronto Horsemeat Restaurant La Palette Public Health Disclosures

Standard

"La Palette", protest, toronto, "Queen Street West" , "french restaurant", horse, horsemeat

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The summer of 2012 was one where activists demonstrated almost every week against horsemeat restaurant La Palette on Queen St. West.  During that time we started paying attention to La Palette’s food safety evaluations under the “DineSafe” program operated by Toronto Public Health.  The program features an Interactive map of every restaurant,  grocery,  cafe and take-out joint that’s been closed by Toronto Public Health since 2001. If we hadn’t been watching, we would have missed a wonderful exercise in schadenfraude – partway through our demonstrations we read on the DineSafe website that Palette received a “conditional pass,” results of which are in the public domain. Restaurants are required to prominently display this information on the front of their entrances (known to Torontonians as “Scores on Doors”),  and when arriving one evening to protest, we were amused to see that a potted plant

La Palette Toronto Public Health Report - courtesy of a protester

2012: La Palette Toronto Public Health Report – courtesy of a protester (notice plant partially obscuring the sign on window)

appeared out of nowhere and partially obscured the signage. La Palette appears to be a restaurant that’s now regularly considered to be “medium/high risk” by the Health Department since in 2014, two years after that conditional pass, they are still being audited 3 times a year. That in itself is probably not atypical for a resto serving multiple meat dishes, some of which are served raw,  but the findings are interesting none the less.

Jim Chan, head of Toronto Public Health’s food-safety program, explains that Toronto Public Health uses a risk-assessment system to figure out how frequently to inspect any given establishment, whether it’s a hot dog cart or a hotel kitchen. Here’s how it works:

HIGH-RISK PREMISES (Inspected three times a year or more): “The more complicated the food preparation, the higher the food-safety risk. “Think of a restaurant with multiple items on the menu, with raw food and ready-to-eat food,” says Chan. “Think of a hospital kitchen, or a long-term-care-home kitchen. If these operators are not careful, it increases the risk of food poisoning.”

MEDIUM-RISK PREMISES (Inspected twice a year or more): “Lots of people think McDonald’s would be high-risk, but it’s medium-risk,” says Chan. “Everything is generic: You have frozen patties, and there’s one way to cook them and one way to serve them.” Other medium-risk establishments: most pizza places, bakeries, sub shops and cafés.

LOW-RISK PREMISES (Inspected once a year or more): “When you look at a 7-Eleven, where all they have is a few hot dogs on a rotisserie, or they sell chips, pre-packaged sandwiches, stuff like that, they’ll be low-risk.” Ditto for Starbucks and most convenience stores.”

"La Palette", horsemeat, protest, "Toronto restaurant" , "french restaurant" , horse

Shamez Amlani,  co-owner of La Palette,  engages a protester

A typical tactic of La Palette during protests was to go out into the street and start serving raw horsemeat to passersby.  In some respects this isn’t entirely a bad thing – when they give away food it means they aren’t selling it.  But whenever I think about eating raw meat, I feel an eating disorder coming on.  I get a little panicky when I think that people, perhaps unknowingly, are eating food I’ve been taught to avoid – even moreso because it’s horsemeat. Personally I don’t get it. It is clear that there are absolutely no critical control points to minimize the risk of infection with the consumption of raw horsemeat.

Here’s last year’s summary of audit findings served up online along with an inspection from 2015 (some of which are highlighted as “significant”).  All findings seem confined to washing, sanitizing, preventing contamination of foods/surfaces – all actions you’d want a restaurant to have figured out after years in operation and several previous cautions by Toronto Public Health.

Click to pause slideshow

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  •  OPERATE FOOD PREMISE – FAIL TO EQUIP FACILITY WITH WASTE RECEPTACLE O. REG 562/90 SEC. 68(3)(D)
  • Operator fail to properly wash equipment  (mutiple observations)
  • Operator fail to properly wash surfaces in rooms (multiple observations)
  • Operator fail to sanitize garbage containers as required
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE CAP WILL PREVENT CONTAMINATION OR ADULTERATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(C)(II)
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE SINGLE-SERVICE CONTAINERS KEPT IN MANNER PREVENTING CONTAMINATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(D)
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE COVER WILL PREVENT CONTAMINATION OR ADULTERATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(C)(II)
  • FAIL TO PROVIDE THERMOMETER IN STORAGE COMPARTMENT O. REG 562/90 SEC. 21

None of the above issues mean that La Palette will get anything less than a green “Pass” evaluation,  and unless a diner takes the time to look up the last audit on the DineSafe website they will not be aware of the  individual infractions.   Since the inception of the program however, only 4 restaurants in Toronto have actually lost their license.

I doubt that any pretentious,  self-indulgent, horse-eating foodies will be tangentially concerned with food hygiene anyway – chefs are some of the least reliable people to ask about safely cooking food to eliminate bacterial (or parasitic) contamination.  And trendy executive chefs like former heroin addict Anthony Bourdain have long popularized the idea that eating”good” food needs to involve some element of risk.  And raw horsemeat = trichinosis roulette.

Advertisements

Not Rah-Rah about Raw – La Palette Protest – September 21, 2012

Standard

Written by Heather Clemenceau

Not Rah-Rah about Raw Meat

Just not feelin’ raw meat…….

Hello dear readers,  and welcome once again to our version of the Occupy movement,  on Queen Street West in Toronto!  A couple of recent protests with a smaller number of advocates in attendance have proven to be about as pleasant and soothing to the nerves as trying to shit in a public bathroom when the stall door lock is broken and you have to keep it shut with your hand.  La Palette co-owner Shamez Amlani no doubt  feels that when our attendance is in smaller numbers,  he is free to resort to douchebaggery,  and when the numbers are larger (more witnesses?) he retreats inside where his only offense is to scowl determinedly from behind the bar.

One recent attempt to get under our skin consists of having someone stand out in front

La Palette serves up raw horsemeat on Queen Street West

La Palette serves up raw horsemeat on Queen Street West (photo courtesy of Frances)

of the resto with crackers and a plate of horse tartare – uncooked horsemeat.  While some may not appreciate this tactic,  it personally bothers me very little – you know what they say about “loss leaders.”  Each sample of horsemeat that Shamez hands out free on the street is one that he cannot sell.  If I were going to recommend another tactic that works equally as poorly,  I’d suggest he also start using Groupon,  which has been shown to be an ineffective acquisition tool for customers,  primarily because curious, cost-conscious  people try a service once,  and never return.  IMO,  freebies and deals like Groupon don’t work for restaurants because while you’re devoting your time servicing a discounted customer base,  any people willing to pay top dollar for any service are often left unaccommodated.  I’ve no worries that Shamez would ever follow my business advice,  because if he did he would have gotten out of horsemeat for all the reasons I’ve accounted for in previous blogs.

“I run a small India restaurant and we were busy right after the groupon, but very few of the customers came back to eat. Plus, those that did visit spent the minimum and barely tipped our staff.”

Returning for the moment to the wisdom of offering uncooked meat to anyone who passes by – any meat,  including horsemeat of course.  I wonder how many people were initially aware that they were eating raw meat,  since this information wasn’t being provided to passers-by who took a sample?  This info might have been even more meaningful in the context of La Palette’s failure to achieve an unconditional pass from the Toronto Board of Health – Dine Safe Program.  Toronto Public Health also offers an advisory on food handling,  particularly as it concerns raw meat and cross-contamination.   IMO,  the serving of raw meat should not be allowed anywhere,  and municipalities are beginning to crack down on this practice,  because there will always be people who are determined to treat their bodies as a garbage dump, at least until they come down with a parasitic infection,   as evidenced by this comment from a foodie freak on a food blog:

“Until we fight the battles necessary to establish the fact that what ever we decide to put into our bodies regardless of perceived risk, is our decision and our right, the battles will never end. There will always be a new perceived risk with the psychopaths in government there to save you from yourself. Even if they kill you in the process. If you continue to fight each of these issues as an unique event, and try to argue the unique merits of a practice you will still fighting new battles that the system creates when the end of time arrives. Asserting your rights to what you put into your body and your absolute right to contract, is the only sane tactic and the only way we are going to win in the long run.”

Raw meat glorifies food porn and features terrible food safety.  Caveat emptor,  dumb-ass.  And it’s not a “perceived risk” either,  there is a quantifiable risk on several fronts.  From an expert:

“Raw meats or undercooked foods leave you at risk of infection of parasites or a slew of other illnesses,” says Dr. Michael Mansour of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

According to NYC’s Department of Health, restaurants must notify diners when food isn’t cooked to required temperatures — either verbally or by printing this on the menu. Basically, it’s buyer beware — though the DOH says it will investigate complaints of people getting sick from eating raw food.

Of course,  New York isn’t Toronto,  and despite my trepidation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA),  I give high marks to Toronto Public Health.  Toronto Public Health

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." Brillat-Savarin


“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”
Brillat-Savarin

received the Crumbine Consumer Protection Award, consisting of a bronze Crumbine medallion and engraved plate, at the Annual Educational Conference of the National Environmental Health Association, on June 19 in Columbus, Ohio. This was the first time in its 56 year history that the award was presented to a local food safety jurisdiction outside of the United States. As a Crumbine Award winner, Toronto Public Health joins an elite group of local public health agencies that have demonstrated “unsurpassed achievements in providing outstanding food protection services in the community.”

The selection jury noted that they were particularly impressed by:
➢ Innovative and new ideas in the realm of consumer protection with technically savvy items like a phone application for consumers
➢ Transparency, with daily website posts
➢ Internationally recognized program with strong impacts felt across the United States and elsewhere

Toronto won for its restaurant inspection disclosure system – red, yellow, green signs on the doors.  La Palette is acutely aware of how this system works.

Toronto Public Health - La Palette earns a conditional pass

Toronto Public Health – La Palette earns a conditional pass

And congrats on that, because on the 10th anniversary of its groundbreaking restaurant inspection disclosure program, Toronto Public Health has become the first non-U.S. health department to win a prestigious award for “unsurpassed achievement in providing outstanding food protection.”

The city’s health department will receive the 56-year-old Samuel J. Crumbine Consumer Protection Award for DineSafe, an internationally recognized program that posts inspection results for Toronto eateries online and in their front windows.

So while Shamez is busy handing out the pharmacological version of Canadian horsemeat on the street (the EU will decline to accept American and Canadian sourced horsemeat come August 1, 2013,  but it will still be good enough for his customers)  I’ve been busy promoting this blog and the concept that horseslaughter and horsemeat are poor consumer and humane choices.  Case in point – this blog,  at the time of writing,  has received over 2,000 hits on La Palette related subject matter only,  not including Facebook penetration or hits on the individual images.  Some of my La Palette blogs rank higher in Google than the restaurant website itself,  depending on search terms and the geographical area of the searcher.  It’s the Queen Street West version of the Occupy movement.  Social media plays a huge role in shaping the views of society on a myriad of issues, and those media are also playing a role in shaping people’s opinions of dining establishments.  Social media has dramatically changed the world of protesting.

Weirkick“Things like spreading a message and amplifying a message to lots of people are really effective when done online,” said Matt Stempeck, a research assistant at MIT’s Center for Civic Media.

“Centaurs” of Attention? La Palette Protest – August 17, 2012

Standard

Tonight is the first night we’ve been back at La Palette  after their self-imposed “holiday” to catch up on repairs and renos,  you know,  just like the french do in France (after they have a humiliating experience with a restaurant inspector).  The announcement on their web page left me wondering exactly what renos they might be undertaking,  given that they’ve had an adversarial relationship with the protesters who have been camped out front almost every week since February 2012.

I can tell you that more than once I glanced upwards towards to the roof of this former horse stable,  to see if co-owner Shamez Amlani was standing up there with a boiling hot cauldron of bacon grease,  rather like those medieval “anti-personnel” fortifications that consisted of incendiary devices  or other flaming projectiles lobbed at enemy combatants during castle sieges.  Alas,  the “renos” did not consist of gunpower, quicklime,   flame throwers,  or napalm,  but Shamez is forever inching those plants out closer towards the sidewalk,  trying to push us further away from the front façade of the restaurant and towards the collection of derelict pre-WWII bicycles,  which he probably believes creates “shabby chic ambiance.”

I’d have to say that,  IMO,  the bikes  offer all the ambiance of  an episode of “American Pickers”  of the “Jersey Shore” meets “Hoarders.” You don’t want to brush up against this rusty junk – there are sharp bicycle fenders pointing

I Want to Ride My Bicycle!  Shabby Chic Elegance or Eyesore?

I Want to Ride My Bicycle! Shabby Chic Elegance or Eyesore?

out at right angles towards pedestrians as they walk by.  The Queen Street West drunks are particularly uncoordinated tonight,  snatching a protest sign  and lurching uncontrollably  into storefronts,  falling into pedestrians,  faceplanting on the sidewalks,  and narrowly avoiding that rusty tangled mass of junk.  I hope anyone coming into contact with these pre-industrial relics has recently had tetanus shots,  although I suppose when you’re drunk and lurching along Queen Street West late at night,  your physical well-being is already a low priority.

Anyway,  our protest group had speculated that at least part of the reason for the temporary shutdown was due to the excitement of the protest immediately prior,  where protest devotee Bob

Mounted Division

A Supporter from the Mounted Divison

was again manhandled by Shamez.  Shamez is really teetering on the precipice of arrest now – that bad boy can’t seem to keep his temper under control,  and Bob’s defenceless sign was mangled once again – now it has a permanent crease down the middle after La Palette’s chief horse-hater struck at Bob through the sign.  You’d expect that a clean air/bicycle activist would be a peaceful sort of person,  no?  I also wouldn’t blame you if you opined that it seemed like a direct conflict for such an activist to turn around and serve non-food animals who have been treated with prohibited drugs and then transported long distances and cruelly slaughtered, to his restaurant patrons.  Shamez seems to confirm,  as recounted in this blog since April,  that he’s hardly the zen-priest of pacifism,  logic,  or reason.

By definition,  assault  and/or battery consists of physical contact with another person without their consent.  An injury need not occur for an assault to be committed, but the force used in the assault must be offensive in nature with an intention to apply force,  which is surely does.  Typically,  people with bad tempers accompanied by poor life skills and/or coping mechanisms find themselves making physical contact with someone  as part of their argument.  Just sayin’


By now,  you may be asking yourself, dear reader,  WWBD  (What Would Bob Do)  after yet another altercation in front of the restaurant?  Bob and the other protesters conferred and in the end,  cops attended the scene,  and had  convo with Shamez that fortunately for him,  did not include a taser, handcuffs,  or a late-night phone call to a sleazy lawyer in a banlon suit.  The cops concluded their visit by advising Shamez that if he causes another physical altercation with a protester,  he will be charged.

Although we have no still pictures of this event,  we do have this incredible,  remastered, eyewitness video:

I guess this means that Shamez will now longer be mistaking the protest as a “Pro- La Palette” event,  as he has claimed in the past?

Modern Marvel?  You be the judge.......

Modern Marvel? You be the judge…….

In case you were thinking that Shamez was always the “Centaur of Attention” at his restaurant,  guess again.  It seems that his chef may also hold delusions of grandeur.  Don’t all chefs have delusions of grandeur though?  It is only food, after all, and chefs are not deities.  So whenever you see those big white plates with microscopic portions on them, you can feel validated for thinking that chefs take themselves far too seriously.  On his Facebook page,  Chef Brook Kavanagh makes the rather unbelievable  claim he is teaching a National Geographic course?  Seriously?  I thought a Discovery show on French topics might discuss the Maginot Line,  the French Revolution,  or Churchill on the Battle of France,  but no,  Brook claims he is TEACHING it.  This is a show about technology.

I know that some of these programs have teaching modules, but how could horsemeat possibly represent the subject matter for this show? Judging by the Facebook pics, it looks more like the History channel featured *something* on horsemeat.  Or perhaps it was a show on trichinosis?  I wonder if it was a segment dealing with the ramifications of leaving meat out at room temperature and consequently barely passing their Public Health inspection?

Try as I might,  I couldn’t find any independent verification of the claim of teaching a Discovery Channel show,  so I’m am throwing shade on this claim,  even though I totally believe that he is telling anyone with a pulse that horsemeat is just fab.  But when Teacher Appreciation Day rolls around,  I’ll have to give you a pass – sorry!

And now,  for a revelation that will give any attention whore pause…………wait for it……….

The last and most interesting development for the evening  is that an anonymous tipster,  who ate at La Palette and saw our protest outside,  reached out  to me via the blog.  One half of

La Palette Receipt

La Palette Receipt

the couple who dined there described Shamez’ demeanor as “perpetually pissed-off” on this evening (weekly jousts with protesters and cops might have that effect).  Ventilation was also terrible – the tipster described the place as being full of greasy smoke – the host apparently discourages patrons from sitting up front where the air is fresher,  because of the protesters!

I guess there’s nothing like greasy smoke for shabby-chic ambiance – but if it were me Shamez,  I would have made “improved ventilation” one of the “renos” that you were going to complete during the shutdown.  Other notable comments were that these diners felt that,  although they enjoyed their entrees,   they were overcharged for tiny portions  (there must be an inverse relationship between the size of the chef’s ego and the portion size – the bigger the ego of the chef – the tinier the portion?) and that the place was generally “underwhelming”  for various reasons. No wonder Amlani feels that he has to rely on the serving of horsemeat to prop up the resto – perhaps $18 for an entree “the size of your fist” isn’t going to cut it.

“Orange” You Glad To See More Calgary Billboard Pics?

Standard

Calgary Billboard Project Team Members

Despite the fact that the colour orange is associated with the NDP party in Canada,  horse slaughter is a non-partisan issue with national importance.  Yes,  many of us have an “Orange” crush on Alex Atamanenko – here’s his blog post summarizing his position on horse slaughter in Canada:

NDP – Atamanenko Rallies Crowd at Calgary ‘Stop Slaughtering Us’ Billboard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2012

BC MP wants predatory horse meat business shut down

Calgary, AB – Alex Atamanenko, MP (BC Southern Interior), along with expert horse advocates, addressed a crowd today at the anti-horse slaughter billboard recently erected on Barlow Street SE with sponsorship from the US based Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue (AAHHR).

According to the BC MP, all kinds of horses that are raised and medicated for every purpose other than the food supply are bought up at random by kill-buyers at auctions throughout Canada and the United States.  Since horse slaughter is prohibited in the US, they are transported to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses and their meat then sold for human consumption to European and domestic markets.

Atamanenko has championed the cause with his private members bill C-322, which has brought about the introduction of thousands of petitions in the House of Commons calling for an end to the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

“It seems very clear that the horsemeat industry has been exempted from the same production standards required for beef and other food animals,” noted Atamanenko.  “Cattle farmers especially would be right to start questioning such an obvious double standard.”

“Phenylbutazone, a drug commonly prescribed to horses, is not permitted to enter the food chain as it has been associated with serious health issues in humans,” advises Dr. Sandie G. Hucal, a medical doctor who provides sanctuary for equines.  “But with horses entering the slaughter pipeline from many different sources, there is no guarantee that all horsemeat is free of this drug.  This presents a definite food safety risk.”

Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director for CHDC pointed out that covert video footage captured at four separate equine slaughterhouses and released through her organization have repeatedly revealed unacceptable levels of suffering when horses are stunned.“This has led us to conclude that the humane slaughter of ‘flight’ animals such as horses is simply not possible,” said Crosland.

Bunnie Harasym, owner of Paradise Stable Horse Rescue in Saskatoon noted that she has often seen the enormous capacity of horses to change people’s lives. “Horses provide security and self worth to the person who sees no future and they give hope and confidence to troubled teens, beaten women, and others lacking in self esteem – it is unacceptable that any horse should meet such a fate”.

“Clearly there are more reasons than not to shut down this predatory, cruel and inhumane industry which enables the inappropriate slaughter of 100,000 or more horses per year in Canada,” concluded Atamanenko.

Calgary Billboard Project Team Members

Charlotte Uhrich, board sponsor states, “We are pleased to put this anti-horse-slaughter billboard up in support of NDP MP Alex Atamanenko and his Bill C-322, a Bill to end horse slaughter in Canada. Horse slaughter is inhumane and barbaric; we do not slaughter and eat our companion animals in Canada. The closet door has been opened to Canada’s dirty little secret and it is time to end this practice.”

“The campaign to end horse slaughter recognizes no borders,” states Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director of the CHDC.  “Most U.S. citizens are adamantly opposed to the slaughter of horses for human consumption, as are many Canadians.  Horses are our companions and working partners – not food for overseas diners.  Many have received drugs in their lifetimes that are not permitted to enter the food chain.”

The CHDC calls upon the Canadian government to pay heed to the concerns of citizens in both Canada and the U.S., and end the slaughter of horses on Canadian soil immediately.

 For more information, please contact Sinikka Crosland at: info@defendhorsescanada.org

CTV Calgary Interview with Dr. Hucal

CTV Calgary Interview with Dr. Hucal – please click to see video

Shut Up and Let Me Eat My Pony in Peace! – La Palette Protest – July 13th

Standard
La Palette protest - July 13th - Summerlicious

La Palette Protest – July 13th – the Toronto Summerlicious dining festival

Written by Heather Clemenceau ©;  all artwork ©

PISS OFF - is this a Urologist's office or what?

PISS OFF – is this a Urologist’s office or a message to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford? Just a shopfront I saw while making my way to La Palette,  which also seems to foreshadow the prevailing sentiment for the evening.

We’re part way through the Summerlicious dining event in the city of Toronto.  It’s hot as Hades,  and in typical Toronto style,  streets are closed-off for no apparent reason,  other than to inconvenience drivers.   You really cannot go downtown without a functioning GPS system of some sort,  because you are forced to weave through one-way arterial streets,  driving several kms out of the way and then doubling back,  and coping with other drivers who see well in advance that their lane is closing, but wait until the last second to butt in front of you.  And don’t even think about attempting a right-hand turn without checking in your mirrors and blindspots because cyclists shoot up on the right side of your car while on their iPhones.

It seems that co-owner Shamez Amlani has taken a pass on participating in Summerlicious this year,  which is probably a good idea considering that the resto only received a conditional pass in the Dine Safe program,  and there are anywhere from 5-15 protesters in front of the place each week.  It also might not be a good idea to feature raw meat dishes in Toronto as they’ve done in the past,  since it’s become apparent that the CFIA is cracking down on restaurants serving raw meat.

Toronto Public Health Report - obscured behind a plant

Toronto Public Health Report – obscured behind a plant

With the street closed-off in front of La Palette (again,  for no apparent reason),  we have much less street traffic than usual,  and less honking.   In the last few weeks we’ve seen that La Palette has a new “strategy,”  which consists of  sending out trolls to either confront us or try to get us to make damaging statements of opinion about the food at the resto.  We’re totally onto the practice of sending a troll out to talk to us under the guise of seeing if we will tell potential customers to eat elsewhere.  This can only mean that,  contrary to Shamez’ earlier statements that he loves our “marketing” efforts,  he is quite desperate to find a way to incriminate us.

Here’s how it works in practice:  a “covert agent” prodded into duty by Shamez,  walks up to the restaurant and expresses consternation about eating there in light of the protest.  After a quick minute,  that person approaches one of the protesters and asks for information.  We duly oblige.  Then the prospective diner (tonight it was an older gentleman) says he is meeting a date here for the first time and doesn’t know her very well.  “How can I explain to her?”  “What should I tell her about eating here?”  Sorry,  we’re NOT falling for THAT!  One thing we are very cognizant of not doing while on protest duty is telling anyone not to eat at the restaurant.  A few weeks ago it was a woman walking down the street, who suddenly flew into a rage at the site of the protest,  and was compelled to call the police.  Sadly,  she had no cell phone,  so she had to go INTO the restaurant to call the police.

It is not our place to render our opinion on whether the staff is friendly,  the food is good, or safe to eat.  We have NO opinion on that – patrons are free to eat there of their own free-will and we are not there to encumber them in their decision.  If you want to know whether it’s SAFE to eat at the restaurant,  check out the Dine Safe review and form your own opinion.  Of course,  it’s a dead giveaway that the person isn’t asking legit questions when he goes  inside the restaurant “to check and see if his date has arrived,”  and doesn’t emerge while we’re there.  I guess he found his dinner companion inside where he left her.

Is Shamez bribing these people to come out of the “dark, dusty” establishment to start arguments with us?  It sure seems that way. Which leads us to the Toronto Public Health report…………..where has that report been hiding?  It’s on the window where it’s supposed to be,  but it’s now somewhat obscured by a flowering plant,  which is a no-no.  To help patrons out,  one of our protesters holds an actual picture of the Dine Safe report so that passers-by can actually see it.  See how courteous and helpful we are?
La Palette Yelp Review

Yelp Review of La Palette – to be fair, the resto has many positive reviews, along with this and other negatives. Yelp throws out the highest and lowest ratings and those made by Yelp reviewers who made only this one review, as they deem them “statistically irrelevant.”

Confrontation at La Palette

Confrontation at La Palette – notice that the patron has gotten all grabby with Bob’s sign.

Tonight we’re plagued by an insufferable troll who moves from person to person trying to incite us,  under the guise of wanting to know why we’re here,  why we’ve chosen La Palette,  and what else we like to do on Friday nights, etc.  After listening to this guy for 15 minutes,  his “voice” sure sounds like one of the familiar trolls I’ve seen appear in the comments section of various Toronto newspapers for a while now.  He’s been eating horse all his life (explains a lot) and he wants facts.  Well actually,  he doesn’t,  he just wants to argue,  and he sets upon poor Bob again.  Another faux-pas is committed tonight when he grabs Bob’s sign and tries to wrench it away.  Bob,  we don’t know why everybody wants to start sumthin’ with you,  but we’re there for you buddy! Abuse of signs is not going to be tolerated. 
.

Everybody seems to be getting a turn in the cage with this guy.  When he demands that I explain my position,  I just tell him to read this blog.  But that isn’t good enough,  which is surprising since he claims to have a PhD in journalism – one would think that he would have enough education to realize that War Horse was not a cooking show.   Because he leans forward towards me to argue,  and I interpret this as a Defcon 3-type threat,  I raise my camera to take a pic (little does he know I already got one of him grabbing Bob’s sign) and he sticks his hand in front of the camera, as if he’s Sean Penn and I’m a papp at TMZ.  This troll hung out with us so long that he probably needs his own protest permit!  We ignore him for as long as possible,  but can’t resist an

Go home and let me eat my pony in peace!

Go home and let me eat my pony in peace!

occasional poke at the bear,  who paces up and down in front of La Palette chain-smoking and just generally being a douche.  Shamez comes outside to observe the scuffle and stays long enough to make some oblique comment about “negros and plantations.”   Finally our journalist skulks back inside after demanding that we all 1) shut-up and 2) leave.  I hate to point out the obvious but we have a legitimate right to protest on the street and we don’t have to go home because you don’t like it.  You’d think a journalist would know that.  You’d also think a journalist or any other person possessing common sense would realize that if he weren’t out on the street arguing with us,  we wouldn’t be “talking.”  Cause and Effect – they don’t teach that in the Perez Hilton School of Journalism.

Some of us did have an exchange with a young woman who apparently works at La Palette.  She was overheard asking what many people ask – “Why horses?”  “Why not GMO foods?” etc. etc.  This young woman wasn’t offensive and did seem to be genuine,  even if not convinced based on her employer’s stance,  so I handed her an information sheet that explained that about 30% of horses slaughtered for food in Canada were racehorses who were likely to have received a compendium of drugs in their racing career.  Here’s what was on the list:

Table 1.  Therapeutic Medications Routinely Used and Identified as Necessary by the Veterinary Advisory Committee — (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium [RMTC] draft list of therapeutic medications, 2005) 

1. Acepromazine 17. Dipyrone  33. Omeprazole 
2. Albuterol 18. Flunixin  34. Pentoxifylline
3. Aminocaproic Acid 19. Fluprednisolone 35. Phenylbutazone
4. Atropine 20. Fluphenazine 36. Phenytoin
5. Beclomethasone 21. Furosemide 37. Prednisolone
6. Betamethasone 22. Glycopyrrolate  38. Prednisone
7. Boldenone 23. Guaifenesin 39. Procaine Penicillin
8. Butorphanol  24. Hydroxyzine 40. Pyrilamine
9. Cimetidine 25. Isoflupredone 41. Ranitidine
10. Clenbuterol 26. Isoxsuprine 42. Reserpine
11. Cromolyn 27. Ketoprofen 43. Stanozolol
12. Dantrolene 28. Lidocaine  44. Testosterone
13. Detomidine  29. Mepivacaine  45. Triamcinolone
14. Dexamethasone 30. Methocarbamol  46. Trichlomethiazide
15. Diazepam 31. Methylprednisolone
16. DMSO 32. Nandrolone 
 
Keep Calm and Stay Classy La Palette

Keep Calm and Stay Classy La Palette

The above list is not even inclusive – there are documented cases of racehorses being dosed with Viagra, cocaine,  cobra venom,  and Dermorphin (pharmacologically similar to morphine and derived from South American frogs).  Not only are these drugs an abuse of horses,  there is no way to confidently assert that these drugs and their metabolites do not enter the food chain.  Obviously,  the most commonly cited drug is Phenylbutazone.  On Pubmed,  there are over 8500 references to phenylbutazone,  so it has been frequently tested in case-controlled,  cohorted studies for many years.  It is a documented fact that even oxyphenbutazone residues,  the metabolite of bute,  can cause aplastic anemia,  and this fact is not in dispute.  Note to Shamez – slaughterhouse veterinarians and managers are in no way qualified to render an opinion whether horsemeat is safe to eat because they are not versed in toxicology or xenobiotics.

There is no incentive at this point in time to test bute any further since the FDA has removed approval for its use in humans,  it is no longer protected by patents,  if indeed it ever was,  and therefore,  no monetary value could be accrued to the patent-holder after roughly 40-50 years on the market.  We likely know as much as we ever will about the effects of bute on horses as well as humans.

Horses in Canada received at slaughterhouses are held for a maximum of 4 days only, and in mosts cases not even that,  so even if they were given bute the day before and this was not disclosed on the EID,  this is insufficient withdrawal time by even the most lax (Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis) standards.

In addition to ALL that, bute has been found in meat shipped to the EU, and has been withdrawn long AFTER it has reached the consumer, further evidence that EIDs and passporting do not work when you are trying to jury-rig a system of slaughtering and consuming non-food animals for food consumption.

Yes,  many horses are treated very poorly,  and as you can read,  they are hardly “organic.”  To regard them with reverence or sentiment is not simply a matter of emotional response.   I contend that horses merit better than to be mass slaughtered and served-up to grab-happy journalists who have not informed themselves as to history, civil liberties,  the right to freedom of association, and especially the sciences.

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Honk If You Like Honking! La Palette Horsemeat Protest – June 15th

Standard
La Palette Horsemeat Protest June 15th

La Palette Horsemeat Protest June 15th (Thanks as always to our vegan supporters)

Written by Heather Clemenceau

All artwork/photography copyright Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only please)

Queen Street West  in front of La Palette –  where protesters against horsemeat have revived the lost art of honking.  Here,  tonight,  honking is no longer interpreted as something hostile, like a rude gesture, or a jab in the side in a crowded elevator. Tonight,  honkers in cars and on bicyclettes honk to reach out to us,  and show support.  We have determined, via direct scientific observation of the La Palette subjects,  that the management DOES NOT support the social compact between us and the public.  It does not seem to matter whether the honking is delivered via the delicate jangle of a bicycle bell,  the tentative toot of a car horn, or in a full blast of a transport truck,  they do not appreciate it.  In fact,  they roll the patio doors closed – on a sweltering hot June day – the patrons are being slowly cooked,  quite unlike the tartare!  La Palette co-owner Shamez enquired,  rather like a host asking his guests who have overstayed their welcome, when we might be leaving?  Normally,  when I want my guests to leave,  I start putting on the “showtunes,”  but I have no intention of alerting Shamez to this tactic (unless of course,  he happens to read about it first-hand here).

Queen Street West,  near La Palette

Queen Street West, near La Palette

The news this week is that we became aware that La Palette received a “conditional pass” by Toronto Public Health,  results of which are in the public domain and can be viewed as part of the “DineSafe” program. As a customer, the best thing to do is read up on any premises’ DineSafe rating before choosing to patronize any restaurant/grocery etc. Toronto Public Health publishes an Interactive map of every restaurant,  grocery,  cafe and take-out joint that’s been closed by Toronto Public Health since 2001. To sum up,  below are the findings for La Palette,  which led to the conditional pass:

  • INADEQUATE FOOD TEMPERATURE CONTROL (This is rated as “critical” by Toronto Public Health)
  • IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / UTENSILS /EQUIPMENT
  • IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF NON-FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / EQUIPMENT
  • IMPROPER STORAGE / REMOVAL OF WASTE
  • FAILURE TO PROTECT FOOD FROM CONTAMINATION
  • BY-LAW #574-2000 INFRACTIONS
la Palette Inspection by Toronto Public Health - page 1

La Palette Inspection by Toronto Public Health (click to jump to the official source document)

Jim Chan, head of Toronto Public Health’s food-safety program,  explains that Toronto Public Health uses a risk-assessment system to figure out how frequently to inspect any given establishment, whether it’s a hot dog cart or a hotel kitchen. Here’s how it works:

“HIGH-RISK PREMISES (Inspected three times a year or more): The more complicated the food preparation, the higher the food-safety risk. “Think of a restaurant with multiple items on the menu, with raw food and ready-to-eat food,” says Chan. “Think of a hospital kitchen, or a long-term-care-home kitchen. If these operators are not careful, it increases the risk of food poisoning.”

MEDIUM-RISK PREMISES (Inspected twice a year or more): “Lots of people think McDonald’s would be high-risk, but it’s medium-risk,” says Chan. “Everything is generic: You have frozen patties, and there’s one way to cook them and one way to serve them.” Other medium-risk establishments: most pizza places, bakeries, sub shops and cafés.

LOW-RISK PREMISES (Inspected once a year or more): “When you look at a 7-Eleven, where all they have is a few hot dogs on a rotisserie, or they sell chips, pre-packaged sandwiches, stuff like that, they’ll be low-risk.” Ditto for Starbucks and most convenience stores.”

According to the inspection schedule,  It seems that La Palette could perhaps reduce the number of inspections required for their resto from three to two per year by eliminating raw food such as horse or venison tartare,  for example.  Eating raw meat is asking for a parasitic infestation –  it’s a fact that raw meat may contain harmful bacteria, including salmonella, listeria, campylobacter and E. coli that can cause food poisoning. These bacteria are destroyed when meat is correctly cooked.  Unless you’re Anthony Bourdain, who quite often treats his GI tract like a toxic-waste dump,  most people wouldn’t consider  eating raw meat and it’s not recommended for young children, elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

When I think about eating raw meat,  I feel an eating disorder coming on.  Personally,  I don’t eat meat,  not only because of the cruelty to all meat-producing animals,  but because pro-slaughter advocates are very cavalier about drug toxicology,  about which they know NADA,  and Big Ag is equally as cavalier.  Pro-slaughter horse advocates whine about “wasting meat” but what they don’t understand is that euthanized horses (or any animal) which are composted or buried become part of the carbon cycle,  without which life on earth would cease.  Also,  having an education in biology,  I get a little panicky when I think that people,  perhaps unknowingly,  are eating food I’ve been taught to avoid.  It seems every day there’s another recall of tainted meat,  or in the case of horsemeat – a recall due to contamination by phenylbutazone.  It’s little wonder that health authorities go apoplectic when they hear stories of consumers willingly chowing down on raw meat. You can get really, really sick. Or worse. Cooking meat is a safety issue.

Sometimes people will say, “Show me a horse that’s got trichinosis,” or “Prove to me that anyone’s ever gotten sick eating horsemeat.”  I usually suggest those people go to Pubmed and start poking around,  where there is plenty of evidence.  Most disease is actually “idiopathic” – without known or attributable cause or mechanism.  Case in point,  if you ask a person who is suffering from cancer to define the cause of their disease,  in all likelihood,  neither they nor their oncologist will be able to precisely pinpoint a cause.  While scientists know that Parkinson’s disease is caused by cellular death,  they don’t yet know what causes that cellular death.  Hence Parkinson’s is another one (of many) examples of idiopathic disease.  But many of the Pubmed entries you can find about diseases associated with consuming horsemeat or meat in general are very precise in arriving at their conclusions – these case studies have pinpointed the cause and effect.  All you need is one serving to make you really ill – especially if you’re eating it raw.   Anthony Bourdain, who explains the philosophy or eating,  well,  pretty much anything that humans can catch and kill,  in his book Kitchen Confidential, “Good eating is all about risk. ”  Yes,  I suppose the way Bourdain eats,  that’s completely true  – it’s about as risky as a dalliance in organized crime.  I propose that we send Bourdain and other foodie freaks into the animal’s natural habitat,  and watch them cope with their natural defences – that’s an assumed risk that would be quite entertaining.  Even an animal experiencing its death throes is still capable of one final insult to the person attempting to eat it.

Toronto Public Health - La Palette earns a conditional pass

Toronto Public Health – La Palette earns a conditional pass

If we review the recent history of La Palette’s food inspections,  we can see that they have passed their inspections at least since July 2010.  We know that the management hasn’t changed,  so we can only speculate as to why they have only received a conditional pass in May 2012.  Shamez Amlani probably had no idea that La Palette’s  “Scandalicious” menu,  named for the “Winterlicious” dining festival,  would transition into such an ominous foreshadowing.  The proverbial heat is on – for food safety and for horses.  We will continue to respectfully request that La Palette remove horsemeat from its menu,  thereby reducing its impact on cruel animal slaughter practices and the possible unintended consequences of supplying their clientele with veterinary drug residues. But in the meantime,  we will do what protesters do – get the word out,  and continue to solicit support for our message by encouraging honking – we love it even if Shamez does not.

La Palette tweet - the heat is on

La Palette tweet – the heat is on

Information on Phenylbutazone contamination in horsemeat

Information on Phenylbutazone contamination in horsemeat