Food safety fails

January 31, 2013, 11:03 am alexandra meyer Yahoo!7

Food safety initiatives are becoming stronger around the country and NSW's compliance rates are on the rise, yet many restaurants in Sydney's Chinatown were recently issued with penalty notices.

Food safety fails
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Compliance with food safety standards is on the rise in NSW, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is taking precautions to protect customers from food borne illnesses.

Compliance rates have lifted to 94.5 per cent in 12 months yet inspections on several Chinese eateries in Sydney found a few local favourites put onto the penalty list.

The inspections coincide with the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, which start on February 10.

The Golden Century Seafood Restaurant on Sussex Street was fined $880 for storing food in a manner that increased the chance of contamination. Inspectors found raw meat hanging from shelves that were touching vegetables.

Popular Malaysian restaurant Mamak was fined after staff failed to store cooked eggs at their temporary food stall during the Malaysia Festival at Darling Harbour in September.

A popular yum cha destination on George Street, Marigold Restaurant was also fined for deep-frying ice cream containing raw eggs.

The NSW Food Authority register of offences has never had so many Chinatown restaurants listed at one time.

“Last year the City adopted a new risk-rating system [under which] poor-performing businesses receive more frequent inspections,” said a representative for the City of Sydney.

The inclusion of the ‘Name and Shame’ initiative, or public listing of penalty notices, has also helped increase observance of food safety. According to Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson there are fewer than 700 food businesses on the list compared with almost 1,200 two years ago.

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Though compliance rates are increasing, reports found that the number of consumer food complaints reported to councils remained the same.

There are currently 1,420 penalty notices in the NSW Food Authority register. Businesses or individuals are placed on the penalty list if they have been issued with a notice and have not challenged it in court.

Around Australia there are now 11 food safety rating systems operating, all of them are voluntary and most operate under the control of individual councils.

Throughout the country there are also growing moves by councils and food authorities to focus on programs such as the “Scores on Doors” that commend businesses on outstanding food safety and hygiene. The “Scores on Doors” involves a star rating system and has been trialed in NSW. The Food Regulations Standing Committee is also working on developing a national approach for a food safety disclosure system.

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