A report released this week highlighted the Brisbane food safety prosecution list for 2014.
According to the Brisbane Times, 21 businesses were prosecuted, 15 food licences were revoked and $435,800 was issued in fines.
The good news is that there seems to be an overall increase in food safety as these numbers show a significant improvement on 2013 when 35 businesses were prosecuted and over $749,000 was issued in fines. The bad news is that so many serious food safety incidents are still occurring.
The results come from a total of 6220 mandatory inspections being performed and 1047 complaints being investigated.
The two most common offences were related to the presence of animals and pests as well as cleanliness offences - both sharing the top spot having been committed by an astonishing 16 out of 21 offenders.
Maintenance offences were also frequently observed, committed by 71% of the food businesses and food storage was an issue for over half of the food businesses that were prosecuted.
Other disturbing issues included problems with food processing (19%), sale of unsuitable food (10%) and poor hygiene of food handlers (19%).
Training Related Offences
All of the issues listed in the report could have been avoided by ensuring that staff had adequate food safety training and were complying with their legal responsibilities in terms of food safety.
Of the businesses prosecuted, 10% did not notify the council of their nominated Food Safety Supervisor and a further 19% had issues with food handler hygiene.
Both of these issues are relatively easy to solve. Food Safety Supervisor training can be completed online in less than a day and Food Handler training is even shorter. The Food Safety Supervisor training must be delivered by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) such as the Australian Institute of Food Safety, and successful participants receive a Statement of Attainment which should be shown to an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) on request.
As per 2013, Brisbane CBD had the most number of offending venues last year, and accounted for 24% of the prosecutions.
Sunnybank and Mt Gravatt featured highly in the 2013 list but both suburbs are showing signs of improvement and have now been overtaken by Fortitude Valley which currently accounts for almost 20% of prosecutions.
The award for the worst offender is a tough one to choose this year.
Indian Odyssey in the Myer Centre in Brisbane CBD received the highest fines for food safety offences ($34,000) yet Juxin Dragon Inn in Fortitude Valley had the longest list of offences committed. Brumby’s should be concerned as they managed to get prosecuted for food safety offences in two separate stores.
One restaurant had the dubious honour of being prosecuted in both 2013 and 2014 for food safety breaches - as well as having more food safety breaches than any other restaurant.
Juxin Dragon Inn Chinese Restaurant in Fortitude Valley was prosecuted again last year for a vast number of offences including lack of skills and knowledge, food storage, food processing, hygiene of food handlers - duties of food businesses, cleanliness, cleaning and sanitising of specific equipment, maintenance, single-use items, animals and pests, sale of unsuitable food, failing to display the food business licence in a prominent position and failing to nominate a food safety supervisor and failing to ensure that the corporation complied with the Act.
Unsurprisingly the restaurant hasn’t been operational since September.
Go Online Before You Dine
To check how your favourite Brisbane restaurant has been performing in terms of food safety, visit the Eat Safe website and search by name or suburb.
Businesses with less than a three-star rating do not need to disclose their results under the scheme.