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Monday, March 23, 2009

There should be no quibbles about this right to know, but there are.

Not a Melbourne photo as far as I know.

The quaint idea that compliance with safety standards at particular premises in the handling of food for public consumption is a matter of interest only to the food safety inspector and the business concerned is still alive and well in most places around the country. Victoria might be about to join
NSW in telling the public more when a proposal goes to Parliament within months, according to Eleni Hale in the Herald Sun.

In the meantime Hale's Freedom of Information applications have produced the following gems about unnamed premises. Names are presumably not disclosed out of concern for the businesses involved. Heads up Melbourneites, these might be one of your favourites:
"An inner-city restaurant where cutlery was wrapped in blood-stained napkins. Bean curd soup was served with a 2cm cockroach at a central Melbourne restaurant. A northern suburbs cafe served eggs with chilli flakes and live maggots. A mouse walked over the meat display at an inner-city butcher's shop. A man found a cockroach in his dim sim. There were many complaints about broken glass in food in the CBD. In the same area, live maggots were served in butter chicken. A family which ate teriyaki chicken in Melbourne's west said they became violently ill. And at an inner-city restaurant, staff used a bottle labelled weed-killer to spray tables."
It's ridiculous that the name of the premises and other details such as when the incident occurred and the history of inspection results, good- NSW still won't go there, sticking to "name and shame" and failing to recognise the value of transparency as an incentive for continual improvement- and bad, is claimed to be information concerning the business affairs of those involved. The information is about compliance with public health and safety standards. In any event the public interest in the promotion of better public health lies in disclosure of inspection results and any other relevant information, for example a subsequent inspection that revealed rectification of previous shortcomings. Or, even more importantly serial breachers.

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