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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

NSW "name and shame" initiative second best option

Good to see the commencement of publication of the details of fines imposed for breach of food standards on the NSW Food Authority website, bringing this state at least somewhere closer to the good practice standard of comparable countries such as the UK, and many parts of the US, and Canada. There is not much sign of movement in the other states.

The Government's initiative is rolled out under the "name and shame" banner, from the Minister's media release, the use of this term on the web page, and predictably in media reporting. What a pity we haven't embraced a fully transparent scheme with real potential to lift food hygiene standards that would come from routine release of information about compliance-good, bad and indifferent-or through a rating system. Either would acknowledge good as well as poor performance, and provide an added incentive to all to lift their game

Examples of penalties that appeared on the "name and shame" website’s first day of publication included:
  • A restaurant in the Fairfield Council area fined $660 for dirty premises or equipment.
  • Two restaurants in North Sydney fined $660 and $330 each; one for a person smoking in a dry food store and the other for a dirty meat slicer.
  • A McDonald’s restaurant on the Central Coast fined $660 for failing to maintain fixtures and fittings in good repair.
  • Two restaurants in the Penrith Council area fined a total of $1320 for four counts of poor cleanliness and maintenance issues.
  • A Wollongong restaurant fined $660 for failing to maintain potentially hazardous food under temperature control.
  • A Subway on the Central Coast fined $660 for poor cleanliness.
The matrix used to determine what constitutes a serious breach and therefore justifying publication is also reassuring after concern about the absence of this detail in the legislation that established the register earlier this year.

It's worth recalling that all this only came about after a two year campaign involving numerous Freedom of Information applications by the Sydney Morning Herald FOI editor Matthew Moore, and frequent refusals by different councils to disclose details on the basis that disclosure would have an unreasonable adverse effect on business affairs that was not outweighed by the public interest in disclosure, in at least one case supported by the Ombudsman. Congratulations to Blacktown and Woollahra councils who early on went against the tide and recognised a strong case of the public right to know when they saw one.


  1. Anonymous5:50 pm

    if one premises gets fined for a reason then all rest should get fined for the same reason no consistancy every single rest should be named not happening therefor dosnt work for some to be singled out out of 100thousands it is defamatory at its highest form prejudice and not very fair again its a stupid system a good solic will have a field day

  2. The examples you put in the post are very good and informative. lawyer wollongong