Canberra food businesses are flouting basic food-safety requirements such as installing a basin for hand washing, and cleaning the kitchen, says the territory’s chief health officer.
The number of improvement notices issued to restaurants, cafes and food stalls in the second half of last year was more than double the number for the same period in 2012.
While some of the 163 notices were for minor infringements, chief health officer Dr Paul Kelly said “we’re still finding significant problems” with general hygiene standards in some premises.
Among the problems were business owners failing to install a basin for hand washing in food-preparation areas.
Others did not maintain clean kitchens or had been caught out not storing food at correct temperatures.
“It’s pretty standard infrastructure that you’d think would just be second nature,” Dr Kelly said.
“It’s cleanliness of the food preparation area.
“It’s temperature control – things that should remain cold do remain cold, things that are hot remain hot – and storage of food stuffs.
“They’re the sort of things that we look at, in general terms ... and that we are still unfortunately finding issues with.”
Only one prohibition notice for not complying with food-safety standards was issued in the second half of last year.
But 20 per cent of businesses inspected received an improvement notice, up from 11 per cent in the same period in 2012.
ACT data show health officials issued an average of 33improvement notices a month between July and November, compared with 15 a month in the same period the previous year.
The jump was partly the result of a boom in new businesses in the ACT’s hospitality sector, Dr Kelly said.
Officials were also conducting more inspections as part of their routine work, or in response to complaints from the public.
There were 810 inspections in the second half of last year and, at present, there are 2828 registered food businesses in Canberra.
“What we have done in the last couple of years is work much more closely with industry [to] take an educative approach,” Dr Kelly said.
“We’ve completely revised our guidelines and translated them into 13 languages.
“We’re trying ... to work with industry to get them to fix their act by themselves.”
“I think we’ve got a way to go still.’’ he said.
‘‘People who don’t have somewhere to wash their hands in a food-preparation area, with running water and soap – that sort of thing is still there,” he said.
“Clean the kitchen.
“It’s pretty basic.”