ACT News

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Cockroaches and dirt: Sushi shops owner fined $41,000 for food safety breaches

The owner of two Woden sushi shops has been fined $41,000 for serious health safety breaches.

Raids on the Sizzle Bento and Roll-A-Sushi, owned by parent company World Fashion Food Pty Ltd, uncovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that recycled dirty water, and food being defrosted and stored on the floor.

World Fashion Food Pty Ltd was sentenced by Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday on 11 criminal charges for the breaches of food standards.

Court documents said health authorities discovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that repeatedly recycled dirty water, and an overheated display cabinet during raids at the now closed Sizzle Bento store in Woden Plaza in May 2011.

Cleanliness and food storage breaches were again detected during a second inspection in September 2011.

Pictures tendered in court showed food safety inspectors encountered cockroaches in the food preparation area.


Gaps in the walls, ceilings and floors were said to be allowing the insects to enter the room.

Court documents said the sushi display cabinet had been set at about 10 degrees, instead of the recommended 5 degrees or less.

The kitchen and food preparation area was dirty and grease was building up on the ceiling, sprinklers, the fridge, and on floors.

Rice and other food was not being stored properly and the shop was warned not to store items in shopping bags, ice cream containers or plastic bins.

The business was shut down briefly after the second raid because drainage issues with the dishwasher meant dirty water was being recycled through the machine, leaving dishes dirty and unsafe.

It was allowed to resume trading five days later, but has since closed.

Roll-A-Sushi was also raided in September 2011, with inspectors finding food had been inappropriately stored and left uncovered in the food preparation area.

Inspectors also recorded visible dirt and grease, and food had been stored and defrosted on the floor.

A sentence hearing, last November, heard World Fashion Food Pty Ltd had gone to great lengths to resolve the issues identified by the inspection, including pest control measures and employee training on correct washing, food handling, storage, and temperature standards.

Defence barrister James Lawton said Sizzle Bento had ceased trading, but Roll-A-Sushi had not failed an inspection since 2011.

On Monday, Ms Hunter imposed a fine of $41,000, saying it was incumbent on businesses to ensure cleanliness.

She said restaurants must understand obligations to maintain safety standards.

"[The restaurants] were in a disgusting state," she said.

"It's quite clear [in both restaurants] the failure to maintain equipment and utensils was quit disgusting. The photographs speak for themselves."