ACT News

Woden sushi shop found with cockroaches, temperature, cleanliness problems

A Woden sushi shop is facing hefty fines after health authorities uncovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that was repeatedly recycling dirty water and an overheated display cabinet. 

Food safety inspectors first raided the now-closed Sizzle Bento store in Woden Plaza in May 2011, finding a host of breaches that potentially put customers at risk. 

Cockroaches were seen in the food preparation area and gaps in the walls, ceilings and floors were said to be allowing the insects to crawl into the room.

The sushi display cabinet was being kept at warm temperatures of about 10 degrees, instead of the recommended five degrees or less, court documents said.

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. 

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A second inspection was conducted in September 9, 2011, and cleanliness and food storage problems were again detected.

The business had to be shut down temporarily due to drainage problems with the dishwasher, which prosecutors say were causing dirty water to be recycled through the machine, leaving dishes dirty and unsafe.

It was allowed to resume trading five days later. 

The parent company, World Fashion Food Pty Ltd, also owned another sushi shop in Woden, called Roll-A-Sushi.

That establishment was also found to have food safety breaches during an inspection on September 9, 2011. 

Food was inappropriately stored and was left uncovered in the food preparation area, according to court documents, and there was dirt, grease and other visible area recorded by the inspectors.

Inspectors said that food was found out of temperature for over two hours. Food was also being stored and defrosted on the floor.

The inspections prompted criminal charges against World Fashion Food Pty Ltd and the company is facing sentencing in the ACT Magistrates Court.

Barrister James Lawton told the court the company had gone to great lengths to resolve the issues identified by the inspection. 

Employees were better trained and informed of proper washing, food handling, storage and temperature standards, and pest control measures had been adopted.

Mr Lawton showed the court photos of the improved conditions, prompting Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter to remark: 

"It's certainly an improvement from what it was."

Mr Lawton said both eateries had been inspected again since and had not been found to have breached. 

Sizzle Bento had since closed, he said, but both had continued to trade for some time without any problem. 

"Since these events in 2011, neither premises have failed a further inspection and both have continued to trade, particularly Roll-A-Sushi, which continues to trade today," he said.

Prosecutor Phoebe Burgoyne-Scutts said the offences were aggravated by the fact that more breaches were detected in the September inspections, despite the company being warned earlier that year that it needed to improve.

"They knew what their obligations were, so in terms of the later offences, they're aggravated," she said.

Ms Burgoyne-Scutts said the photos "really speak for themselves".

The sentence will be handed down in January.

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