Filthy food prep conditions in Mackay restaurant
A MACKAY Chinese restaurant owner has been slammed for unclean food preparation and kitchen practices labelled "a major concern" that could have put customers at risk.
Dead insects behind equipment.
A build up of food scraps on the floor.
Rags contaminated with raw chicken.
Mackay Regional Council workers made these shocking observations during inspections earlier this year at the Mount Pleasant venue.
As a result Kent Loi Meng Cheuk pleaded guilty to four offences under the Food Act 2006.
He claims a language barrier made it difficult to understand council emails about required improvements.
The Panda House owner failed to store raw chicken properly or at the appropriate temperature required by law, failed to organise training for food handlers and allowed food to be handled and prepared in an unclean kitchen.
Magistrate James Morton said it was a "lacksey daisy" approach to food preparation and cleanliness by Cheuk and his staff, and labelled it "a major concern".
Council officers, who visited the Grandview Dr premises in April and May, found raw chicken stored in and being defrosted in sinks, raw chicken sitting at 25 degrees and walls, knives and floors cross contaminated with raw chicken.
Mackay Magistrates Court heard food handlers were not washing their hands after food preparation and were using gloves that had been rewashed.
Dirty cloths contaminated with raw chicken were used to wipe down surfaces.
There were no designated areas for cleaning, sanitising, food preparation or hand washing and food handlers were largely unaware of their health and hygiene obligations.
Food was also stored in reused cans and jars without dates and surfaces were not being cleaned nor sanitised.
The court heard there was a build up of food waste, dirt and grease or other visible matter within the kitchen, "dead insects behind equipment" and food waste on the floor behind equipment.
The cleaning sink contained bits of raw chicken and a dirty chopping board stored on top of a clean chopping board on a shelf.
Staff was also unaware of the difference between cleaning and sanitising.
The hot water system had been switched off so there was no warm running water available on site.
Mr Morton said "very disturbingly" the majority of the charges involved the handling of raw chicken and the venue's uncleanliness.
Council solicitor Kate Bone pushed for a fine between $2000 and $3000 plus costs totalling $1577.
"Council officers have been to the premise since these charges and there has been an improvement on cleanliness," Ms Bone said.
She added some staff had since also attended courses regarding cleanliness and food preparation.
Cheuk, who was self represented and needed a Cantonese interpreter, said he had made improvements after every council visit.
He said there were communication barriers with his language "but I did follow the instructions".
"Please give me one more opportunity to improve," Cheuk said.
Mr Morton told Cheuk it was no excuse.
"You want to set up a business in this country you must comply with the rules," he said.
"The court must send a message to (Cheuk) and … the community that this is not acceptable."
The court heard Cheuk had no history of breaching this legislation and it was an early plea of guilty.
"No doubt the public shame will be out upon the name of the business … that will have some flow-on consequences," Mr Morton said.
"You make sure you conduct your business and your service in a cleanliness way, you understand.
"People go to your restaurant … and expect to get good clean food without getting sick.
"I accept that you've cleaned your act up."
Cheuk was fined $2000 and ordered to pay $1577 in costs.
He asked for a payment plan saying the his business was "not running really well".
Convictions were not recorded.