Noble Palace cops the banhammer

By 1 June, 2012 23

This in from the Noble Palace Chinese Restaurant getting ahead of the curve:

From: Noble Palace Chinese Restaurant
Subject: Noble Palace closed by ACT Health

Message Body:
Dear Riot-Act,

The owners of the Noble Palace Chinese Restaurant in Woden would like to take this opportunity to advise our customers that as of Thursday 31st of May 2012, we have temporarily ceased trading due to a Prohibition Order issued to us by the ACT Government’s overzealous Health Protection Service within the ACT Health Directorate.

For more information please view our website and feel free to link to our website and it’s contents for our view of the matter.

http://noblepalace.com.au/

thank you,
Hue

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23 Responses to Noble Palace cops the banhammer
#1
fnaah1:56 pm, 01 Jun 12

Nooooo!

I like not this news. Bring me some other.

#2
RiotFrog2:14 pm, 01 Jun 12

Wow, I’m impressed how these have gone on the ‘offensive’ – posting pictures of the kitchen, and the details of the prohibition order.

#3
p12:16 pm, 01 Jun 12

Nice work Noble Palace. As JB said, getting out ahead of it. And apart from the “overzealous” descriptor, without being negative. For what it’s worth, you haven’t lost my business (well, maybe for the next few days….).

#4
patrick_keogh2:21 pm, 01 Jun 12

It is as I suspected… from the restaurant’s long defence “In this case the inspector did not find any Critical hygiene or food handling issues by any of our staff and we assume they issued their notice based on repeated non-compliance of various building and maintenance items, which in our experience are common to most restaurants and do not affect the safety of our food preparation. Although we are currently fixing those items we don’t think they are grounds for an immediate closure and tarnishing of our good name. “

So the issues here are
- “repeated non-compliance” WTF is the department meant to do if the restaurant repeatedly ignores the inspectors?
- the restaurant owner believing that their opinion about food safety is more valid that then department’s opinion.

I for one am pleased that the department is standing up to restaurants that refuse to comply with findings by inspectors. If they had only taken notice of these findings in the first place then they wouldn’t be closed now.

#5
OzChick2:21 pm, 01 Jun 12

Direct link to their statement (with pics). http://npalace.bravehost.com/index.html

#6
Elizabethany2:36 pm, 01 Jun 12

Considering that they had 13 different breaches, I don’t blame them for being shut down. Especially after you see how chaotic and messy (though not dirty) the kitchen is. Considering that some of the breaches involve the building itself, I wonder what the department has been doing for the last 7 years…

#7
c_c2:36 pm, 01 Jun 12

They never learn.

“In summary, most of the so called “serious food safety breaches” are issues with the maintenance of building, fixtures and fittings and administrative issues, which give no justification to immediate closure of our restaurant.”

Food business owners have a wonderful talent, they can explain anything away.

“This gives the impression that we have cross-contamination, which we don’t, instead we were simply told that the clean knives hung on the wall must be stored elsewhere (see our photo).”

How does he know there’s no x-contamination? The possibility alone though is enough to warrant closure until fixed.

“All our refridgerated food is kept in a commercial freezer with an in-built thermostat control. In this case we didn’t have a portable probe thermometer so we were in breach.”

No independent means of verifying food is correct temp, no worries obviously.

“We clean the restaurant contact surfaces each day with chemical disinfectants, however the inspector identified building fixtures and fittings that are ageing with normal use and are apparently a cause for concern and a serious repeat breach.”

Each day? But you have both a lunch time and dinner services.

Also interesting is what Hue leaves out, both of his website text and photos. Item 8 on the order pertains to a clearly marked basin for hand washing only, with soap and hand drying facilities.
He doesn’t show such a thing in his photos, he doesn’t make any mention of this point in his open letter.

Looks like poppy was a bit sloppy.

#8
Deref3:03 pm, 01 Jun 12

p1 said :

Nice work Noble Palace. As JB said, getting out ahead of it. And apart from the “overzealous” descriptor, without being negative. For what it’s worth, you haven’t lost my business (well, maybe for the next few days….).

Same here.

Great to see ACT Health doing such a great job. Once Noble Palace have cleaned up their act I’ll be back.

#9
VYBerlinaV8_is_back3:34 pm, 01 Jun 12

Instead of all the public finger-pointing, how about actually cleaning the place up?

I think the banhammer is a Good Thing.

#10
echoztrip3:53 pm, 01 Jun 12

Firstly, I’ve enjoyed eating at the Noble Palace since they originally opened.

However to be completely honest, the state the building compared to when it first opened is night and day. The entrance way in particular with old couches and all the fish/lobster tanks making a large mess of the area. Also the front doors are covered in all sorts of crap (posters, etc) which just makes it look messy.

But as I said, food and service has been enjoyable, but would wish they would put a bit more effort into the presentation of the business (like how it was when they first opened!)

#11
Diggety4:34 pm, 01 Jun 12

This is one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve seen in the ACT.

#12
Mysteryman4:45 pm, 01 Jun 12

I like that they’ve made the effort to present their side of the story.

#13
p15:00 pm, 01 Jun 12

Elizabethany said :

….I wonder what the department has been doing for the last 7 years…

This is what I wonder. Even if the breaches we keep hearing off are largely “little things” and “technicalities” which restaurants have been repeatedly ignoring over many years, I have to ask, why were they allowed to get away with it so long?

Also curious to know if there was some sudden cultural change at the department of the ban hammer? (or was this answered in one of the other threads on the topic?) Did they get a new boss? More funding? Or has something else stopped happening to free up some time to do this?

#14
maya6:08 pm, 01 Jun 12

Have you been sleeping? It’s ACT election year and Labor are looking for something to do to boost opinion polls. Bashing small business is pretty easy and has high rewards in this public service town. FYI, I’d like plastic shopping bags brought back and not having my raw meats mixed with vegetables and chocolates when i shop at the supermarket. Have you seen their conveyor belts, filthy beyond belief. While Im at it, why don’t they clean up the fast food chains in canberra, some real bad filth out in the open whenever i visit with kids and nobody bothers to clean it up after telling them. yuck!

p1 said :

Elizabethany said :

….I wonder what the department has been doing for the last 7 years…

This is what I wonder. Even if the breaches we keep hearing off are largely “little things” and “technicalities” which restaurants have been repeatedly ignoring over many years, I have to ask, why were they allowed to get away with it so long?

Also curious to know if there was some sudden cultural change at the department of the ban hammer? (or was this answered in one of the other threads on the topic?) Did they get a new boss? More funding? Or has something else stopped happening to free up some time to do this?

p1 said :

Elizabethany said :

….I wonder what the department has been doing for the last 7 years…

This is what I wonder. Even if the breaches we keep hearing off are largely “little things” and “technicalities” which restaurants have been repeatedly ignoring over many years, I have to ask, why were they allowed to get away with it so long?

Also curious to know if there was some sudden cultural change at the department of the ban hammer? (or was this answered in one of the other threads on the topic?) Did they get a new boss? More funding? Or has something else stopped happening to free up some time to do this?

#15
gooterz6:54 pm, 01 Jun 12

Would love to know if these places are getting picked at random or what kind of selection method they choose?

Is the inspector just targeting all the places he doesn’t like?

Popular cafe’s and forign food places?

#16
chase_D8:00 pm, 01 Jun 12

Wow, if memory serves me this year alone Prince Palace, Kingsley Chicken, the Indian place at Civic have all been shut down. Now NP.

Such a shame though. It’s my favourite Chinese restaurant although it has been getting run down the past few years, still the bloody best dim sum I’ve ever had.

My stance on all this is the stated breaches appear to be minor and do not warrant the phrase “a risk to public health” and “serious safety breaches”.

Honestly, you think there was a food poisoning epidemic or some sort of serious circumstance—but there wasn’t.

I think the ACT Public Health has been too free or trigger-happy in smashing down the Banhammer.

P.S. At one of the other commenters, if you actually have a careful read of the notice on their website, it does state they are actively trying to ‘clean up the place’. So they are complying, they’re just giving their side of the story.

#17
rosscoact8:06 pm, 01 Jun 12

looks like they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t

#18
Skidbladnir9:10 pm, 01 Jun 12

Of all the things to discover I find exciting, its food safety enforcement at restaurants I enjoy (and have never had a health scare from, any Australian kitchen is probably healthier than most in Laos)…

*grabs popcorn, and waits for the outcome*

#19
Skidbladnir9:12 pm, 01 Jun 12

(also, respect goes to Noble Palace for recognising, engaging, and embracing new media)
Once you reopen, I will eat there again.

#20
Jivrashia9:56 pm, 01 Jun 12

(Your favourite “At First I Was Like… / But then…” MEME here.)

Well, at first I was impressed with Noble Palace’s (NP) response to the ban. But there are certain clarifications needed from both sides of this debate.

Mind you, I have never visited NP and have never been audited by a food inspector, so I am a complete outsider to all this, but…

2. “All equipment used for food preparation…are to be stored in a manner that will protect them from contamination.”
This gives the impression that we have cross-contamination, which we don’t, instead we were simply told that the clean knives hung on the wall must be stored elsewhere (see our photo).

I would have thought that x-contamination had to do with, in this case, knives been used between uncooked food and cooked food. For example, using the same plate you’d thawed your meat on to serve the cooked steak.
But I am a bit worried that certain things (plates) are exposed for staff members to accidentally sneeze on.

3. “All food to be stored in such a way that it is protected…by being covered, stored off the floor and in food grade storage containers….”
This gives the impression that we store food directly on the floor, in fact in this instance we used sealed bags within a carton stored in the freezer floor. In no way did food make contact directly with the kitchen floor. We have now moved carton onto the freezer shelf.

I don’t think this has much to do with the ingredients (e.g. rice bag) being on the floor as opposed to the chance of vermins entering a poorly sealed one that would contaminate the food. One could argue “But it is cooked first that would kill all diseases”. But if we’re talking about a poisoned rat, then that’s different.

9. “A temperature monitoring device must be accessible within the premises”
All our refridgerated food is kept in a commercial freezer with an in-built thermostat control. In this case we didn’t have a portable probe thermometer so we were in breach.

I guess the portable probe thermometer is to ensure that the commercial freezer is working efficiently. Given that these commercial freezers have large space there may be some corners of the freezer room that isn’t adequate to store food. Inperfection of modern feezers I guess?

10. “The exhaust system is to be thoroughly cleaned and not have a build up of food waste, dirt, grease or other matter”.
We use a commercial service to clean our exhaust as required. There will always be some build up at any point in time except on the day that it is cleaned. We were not asked for proof of past services during the inspection.

Any build up of waste for more than a day is a great place for bacteria to flourish. One can argue that these baterias are killed during the cooking process, but then if there’s enough build up then cooking might not alleviate them all. The real question is whether the “regular” cleaning is adequate for the rate of accumulation of such dirt/waste?

11. “The proprietor is to develop a pest control plan. The pest control plan is required to ensure the premises remain free of insect and other pests at all times.”
We use regular commercial pest control services and the inspector found no signs of cockroaches, rats, mice or flies.

I think the question here is IF THERE IS A PLAN IN PLACE? That is, on a daily basis, is there a plan to ensure that the accumulation of pests/vermins are minimised? Is there a cleaning regime, which is communicated to all staff members within the kitchen, to ensure that it is done? Checklist? Auditing? No source of food for vermins to feed on (including small patches of water in the sink)?

By the time you see cockroaches or rats, it is TOO LATE.

12. “Develop and provide a cleaning and sanitation plan to ensure premises, fixtures and equipment are being cleaned”.
We clean the restaurant contact surfaces each day with chemical disinfectants, however the inspector identified building fixtures and fittings that are ageing with normal use and are apparently a cause for concern and a serious repeat breach. He also identified some grease build-up underneath some benches which we will clean as soon as possible.

Again, is the PLAN there and is it being followed? And is the ageing of the building fixtures and fittings directly related to the potential risk of contamination of food being served?

——
Having said that, I sometimes wonder if the food safety standard is out of date, and being impracticably too strict, and that the restaurateurs are being unfairly treated.

TL;DR Good response on the part of NP, but can we get more clarification on:
a) how it may be impractical for this restaurant to meet some of the standards? Note that some of the food safety standards should be debated, and argued to the point that they back down.
b) what alternative measure can be recommend in terms of negotiating to a point that both parties can agree on (sorry, I know this is unfair to ask in that it is beyond the responsibility of a typical restaurateur to pursue).

#21
MsAnnoyed11:57 pm, 17 Jun 12

I’m disgusted by this latest attack on small business. As if its not hard enough already without bureaucratic ladder climbers, arrogant, industry lacking experienced “health inspectors” and some members of the public who clearly have no idea on the realities of a commercial kitchen.

I have spent the majority of my life in both a successful small family run business, as well as in a government organisation, and while I agree with the need for food safety and food handling regulations, from what I have heard, read and seen, I am totally disgusted by this governments unrealistic approach.

Many home kitchens are worse than your average commercial kitchen. Many home cooks are far more unhygenic, and eat food of a lesser quality than what you would get in your average commercial kitchen.

People who travel overseas and go to dodgy local eateries, or eat off the street and come home bragging about how they are intrepid travellers and ate all the “local” food, but then come home to Australia and pass uneducated judgements and comments make me laugh.

I have friends who are not only in the restaurant business, but also other food providors, who have had the “pleasure” of having been inspected by “health inspectors” who have had alot to be desired. Where is the ACT Government getting these people from????

When closing one place down after being told they were the cleanest of establishments of their type, and trust me they are, to be closed for MINOR offences for 4 days is disgraceful. There was not warning, no time to fix the problem, they were closed then and there. THIS IS NOT FAIR.

When told that if they were to be closed down for minor NON health related “offences” -they were not given the opportunity to rectify the minor issues (ie; cracked floor tile out the back) within a decent time frame, they were closed down on the spot. When advised if the ACT Government were to close them down they stood to lose X dollars and their livelihood would be affected to a point of severe financial hardship, and by being so unrealistic and unbending on their approach they would send them broke- to be told by the “health inspector”, that was not their problem. When countered by the shop owner that they were making things so impossible for them and it would make many people give up their business, the “health inspector” replied, “well if you don’t do it someone else will”. This shop owner is a second generation in his field, and comes from a very old Canberra family. His son who wanted to follow in his grandfather and his fathers profession has been told a firm no, not anymore. Go to school and get a job in computers.

The future probems this is going to cause goes without saying.

I have read that they are targeting Asian restaurants? Why is that??

Restaurant owners, food providers, and small businesses have so many things on their plates to mearl exist nowadays, let alone having to figure out how to write up documents on cleaning, pesticide (etc) plans, (which they are not trained to do) to appease a bureaucratic paper driven, document driven ACT Government.

For the uneducated public, open your mind, spend time in a busy small business (“walk a mile in my shoes….”), look at your own kitchens and homes, and if you can’t do that, if you still think that its fair what the ACT Government is doing to many small businesses (unfairly), then think of the businesses that will inevitably close, the families and employees who will be affected and the ultimate demise of small businesses and choice. See how you would feel if it was your livelihood that was in the hands of an unsympathetic and vote driven ACT Government.

Yes, have rules and regulations, but be fair, be understanding, be inclusive and coehesive, provide training, give people time to fix offences. Employ the right people to do this job. People who have commercial and industry knowledge.

Thats all we ask.

#22
Felix the Cat10:07 am, 18 Jun 12

MsAnnoyed said :

I have read that they are targeting Asian restaurants? Why is that??

Not sure where you read that, there was an Italian restaurant recently penalised so your theorey sound unlikely.

#23
Mr Evil10:27 am, 18 Jun 12

Felix the Cat said :

MsAnnoyed said :

I have read that they are targeting Asian restaurants? Why is that??

Not sure where you read that, there was an Italian restaurant recently penalised so your theorey sound unlikely.

Didn’t you know that ACT Health is now run by One Nation and is deliberately targeting Asian restaurants? It has nothing to do with food safety, and everything to do with the White Australia policy!

If in doubt, play the race card – it works every time……….

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