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Caloundra restaurant cops $18,000 fine for cockroaches in the kitchen
A popular Caloundra seafood restaurant – Centrepoint Buffet – has been fined $18,423 in the Caloundra Magistrates Court for having cockroaches on serving benches, among a wide range of complaints.
The Sunshine Coast Council inspected the business on February 3 after several attempts to have the business improve its kitchen facilities.
On February 3 the inspectors found cockroaches, unwashed benches and dirty floors and walls, as well as dirty fixtures.
Dirty food storage at Caloundra’s Centrepoint Buffet before it was temporarily closed. Photo: Sunshine Coast Council
Inspectors ruled the food was poorly stored and likely to be easily contaminated and found old rusty shelving inside the cool rooms and freezers.
The inspectors also found the food risked contamination in the display areas.
Photographs provided to the court showed cockroaches on food benches, cockroaches beside food containers, with fat grease and food particles on unwashed hotplates, dirty grills, dirty floors, unwashed sinks with food particles and unwashed plastic food containers.
Cockroaches found in food preparation areas at Centrepoint Buffet before the upgrade. Photo: Sunshine Coast Council
Caloundra Magistrate Stephanie Tonkin issued one penalty for nine charges of $17,000 and charged the business a further $1423 for professional and court costs.
Centrepoint Buffet owner Jerry Li said the photographs did not give a true indication of the older kitchen conditions.
He said he was angry at the media attention six months after his business had been closed for 10 days while it was improved.
Cockroaches were found on benches in the restaurant. Photo: Sunshine Coast Council
“It should have happened when it happened, back in February, not today,” Mr Li said.
Mr Li said he had made the improvements recommended by Sunshine Coast Council and spent more than $20,000 on the renovations.
“Of course we have,” he said.
“Council would not have let us open if we didn’t.”
Sunshine Coast Council healthy places co-ordinator Jason Brewer said two inspectors found “major non-compliances” with food hygiene and closed the business remporarily.
“We also had general cleaning issues with an accumulation of grease and the walls, floors and other areas needed cleaning,” he said.
“And there was rusting shelves – and that’s about potential contamination – and you can’t keep that clean.”
Sunshine Coast Council Community Programs Councillor Jenny McKay said 95 per cent of Sunshine Coast food businesses provided quality, hygienic and safe food to their customers.
“Our environmental health officers proactively audit all of the 1775 fixed, 91 mobile and 158 temporary food business premises throughout the region to make sure they comply with the Food Act 2006 and the Food Standards Code,” Cr McKay said.
“And most of the food operators on the Sunshine Coast are doing the right thing, with only around 5 per cent issued with improvement notices,” she said.
Cr McKay said council’s inspectors had decided to act on the Caloundra seafood business.
“In this instance however, council determined the business had a number of critical food safety non-compliances,” she said.
“And out of concern for customer safety, took the case to prosecution.
“The central message from today’s case to all food businesses on the Sunshine Coast is provide your customers with safe, hygienic food or face the consequences.
“When a business fails to work with council, we have no option left but to prosecute to enforce the law to protect the community.”
The top 10 complaints chased by Sunshine Coast food inspectors
1. Keeping floors, walls and ceiling clean with no visible trace of food, dirt or grease.
2. Keeping the food premise in good state of repair and working order.
3. Keeping fixtures, fittings and equipment to a standard of cleanliness where there is no accumulation of food waste, dirt, grease or other visible matter.
4. Providing a temperature-measuring device that can accurately measure the temperature of potentially hazardous food to +/- 1ºC.
4. Displaying the licence or a copy of it in a prominent position so it is easily visible to persons in a public area of the premises.
5. Making sure each hand-washing facility has an adequate supply of single use towels or other means of effectively drying hands.
6. Maintaining the food premises to a standard of cleanliness where there is no accumulation of food waste, dirt, grease or other visible matter.
7. Storing cold potentially hazardous food under temperature control of 5ºC or below.
8. Making sure each hand washing facility has an adequate supply of soap to thoroughly clean hands.
9. Maintaining the fixtures, fittings and equipment in a good state of repair and working order.
10. Sanitising food equipment contact surfaces by heat, chemicals or other processes to reduce the number of micro-organisms to a level that doesn’t compromise food safety.