ACT News

Popular bakery fined for food safety breaches

The clean up took only hours, but the risk to public health through potentially contaminated food has seen one of Canberra's largest private bakeries fined $10,000.

That Bagel Place, also known as Bread Nerds, pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to seven charges of not complying with food standards and was convicted and sentenced on Friday, almost two-and-a-half years after the breaches.

Bread Nerds, pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to seven charges of not complying with food standards.
Bread Nerds, pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to seven charges of not complying with food standards. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The charges stem from an inspection in August 2012, but the case has been delayed while the ACT Supreme Court ruled on the legality of charging offenders with multiple counts for breaches of the Food Act.

Court documents said health authorities went to the Hume premises on August 29 after receiving a complaint from the public.

Inspectors issued the business with a prohibition notice the next day, forcing it to shut, as it was deemed to be selling food that was a risk to public health.

The owners had the bakery clean within hours and were able to reopen that afternoon.

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Inspectors took a number of photographs during the initial inspection, which showed unclean surfaces that risked contamination and issues that made cleaning difficult.

Breaches included general uncleanliness and a buildup of residue on the dough mixer, bagel roller, bagel conveyor, oven, floors, benches and surfaces.

Food was also stored incorrectly, with food products on the floor, bags left open, uncovered dry ingredients, and unclean food storage containers and tubs.

In one example, hydraulic fluid was found above open bags of flour and seeds.

Owner Shane Peart, in an interview with the authorities, admitted that the bakery had been "unclean" and "that the bakery was not in a satisfactory condition".

Defence lawyer Adrian McKenna told the court on Friday that the offences should be seen as low-to-mid range.

Mr McKenna said his client had accepted responsibility and, although there had been reasons for the breaches, he made no excuses.

Part of the issue, the lawyer submitted, had been the fast growth of the family-run business, an incorrectly installed floor that had proven difficult to clean, and staffing issues.

Mr McKenna said his client had acted quickly to clean the premises within a day of receiving the notice.

A professional firm had since been hired to conduct the cleaning and pictures were tendered of the now spotless state the premises.

Mr McKenna said the business had suffered hardship to both to its reputation and finances as a result.

But prosecutor Paul Sweeney argued the offences had been mid-to-high range. He said the short amount of time to clean the premises did not do the business credit as it was a standard expected of food handlers.

Mr Sweeney said patrons had the right to expect food had been cooked in a clean and hygienic environment by people who obeyed safety laws.

"This is not a matter of poor luck, this is poor business practice," Mr Sweeney said.

Magistrate Maria Doogan said she accepted Mr Peart's remorse, embarrassment, and financial loss.

She said she had no doubt it would never happen again.

The magistrate fined the business $10,080, with nine months to pay.