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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sunshine best served straight

It's come a long way since this post seven years ago about Matthew Moore's exposure of excessive secrecy concerning compliance with food hygiene standards, and six years since the first Freedom of Information breakthrough by the Blacktown Advocate leading to release of the names of local offending restaurants. Then in 2008 the publication of statewide details by the NSW Food Authority, finally put paid to some of the early nonsense about "privacy" and placed the public interest properly in the middle of the table.

Esther Han's front page splash in The Sun Herald today on the results from the first full release of data from the Food Authority's register reveals that more than 3500 of the 36,000 eateries inspected across the state failed hygiene tests. Over 8000 penalty notices were issued in the past five years. More than 1000 related to cockroach infestations, rodent activity and droppings in commercial kitchens. The worst offenders get more free publicity. (Update: a special serve for the fast food chains in this follow on.)

Testimony to some degree to the old adage, sunshine etc: "Last year 785 food businesses were named and shamed compared with 1309 businesses the year before."The number of food businesses appearing on the register has almost halved in three years..."  

I've lost track of whether this fight for transparency is still to be won in some other states and welcome any updates.

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