ACT News

Chinese restaurant owner fined for unsafe food practices

The owner of a southside Chinese restaurant has been fined more than $5000 for unsafe food practices.

The breaches at the eatery were described as being at the "low end of the scale" during a sentencing in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

The issues were uncovered during an inspection of the Lisa Chinese Restaurant in Chisholm just as staff were preparing for the dinner rush one night in November 2010.

The breaches related to improper food storage, the dirty state of the premises and its fittings, and the failure to have proper hand washing facilities.

The restaurant was shut down for a week following the inspection, something that Magistrate Peter Morrison noted caused a loss of income and embarrassment for the owner.

Mr Morrison sentenced restaurant owner Agnes Guan on four breaches of the Food Act, each of which carried a potential maximum fine of $55,000.

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Guan, who pleaded guilty to all four charges, was fined a total of $5300.

Mr Morrison accepted that Guan had taken "significant steps" to modernise and improve the 30-year-old premises since the inspection in 2010.

About $60,000 was spent on renovations, staff had been trained, and a fellow restaurateur was asked to conduct random audits on the business to ensure it was meeting standards.

Signs detailing safe food handling procedures had been translated into Mandarin with the help of Victorian authorities and hung in work areas.

Pest controllers and filtration companies had also been engaged to help clean the restaurant.

The court heard the case had caused a great deal of embarrassment to Guan, who took "great pride" in the restaurant.

Mr Morrison said the risk of reoffending was low.

The court heard the cleanliness issues were "not shocking", but still constituted a breach of standards.

Mr Morrison said the timing of the inspection, which took place as staff were preparing for the dinner rush, was an important consideration in the food storage breaches.

The prosecution offered no evidence on a further five charges against Guan, and they were dropped.

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