'Extensive contamination' found at northside eatery
Cooking equipment at the Hong Kong Inn, Holt. Photo: Supplied
The former owner of a Chinese takeaway breached for ''deplorable'' violations of food laws was incapable of managing an eatery, a magistrate has said.
But Simon Tu has escaped a fine after his lawyer said he had absolutely no capacity to pay off any financial punishment the court might mete out.
Magistrate Peter Dingwall on Wednesday said the 59-year-old's kitchen-hand experience failed to prepare him for the realities of running a commercial kitchen.
Utensils at the eatery. Photo: Supplied
He convicted Tu, who has little education or English, for two breaches of the Food Act and placed him on an 18-month good behaviour order.
Health authorities shut down the Hong Kong Inn in Holt in March last year after inspectors decided a prohibition order was needed to ''prevent or mitigate a serious danger to public health''.
Raw meat was stored above sauces and vegetables, posing a contamination risk, and the kitchen surfaces were covered in ''extensive contamination'' including dirt and grease.
A vegetable slicer found at the restaurant. Photo: Supplied
Food was badly stored, uncovered and kept in dirty ice cream containers.
The floor was covered in debris and grease; utensils posed ''a high risk of physical, microbial and chemical contamination''.
The staff wash basin was cluttered, had no soap and wasn't connected to warm running water.
The eatery was shut down for about six weeks until health authorities lifted the prohibition notice.
By the time he received the all clear, Tu's lease on the premises expired and he had walked away from the business.
Mr Dingwall described the conditions as ''deplorable'' and said they ''resulted in the very real potential of unsafe food being sold and harm coming to members of the public''.
But he noted no complaints were ever received from customers about the Hong Kong Inn's food.
Tu indicated pleas of guilty at an early opportunity and his lawyer described him as ''a man without a stain on his character''.
The magistrate said in such cases a fine would normally be imposed, but Tu's ''impecunious position'' and virtual unemployability changed the situation.
Mr Dingwall said the six-week shut down, when Tu was still paying rent on a useless business, ''would seem to be a fairly significant penalty to me''.
And he noted Tu appeared to have no training in the industry other than as a kitchen hand, but he ''somehow ended up with that business''. ''Clearly he had no capacity to run this business,'' the magistrate said. Mr Dingwall ordered the defendant to pay $67 in court costs, which he has three months to settle.