18 August 2023

East Row IGA owner fined $16,500 for food safety breaches during COVID-19

| Albert McKnight
East Row IGA

Rising Wood Pty Ltd has been fined $16,500 in the ACT Magistrates Court. Photo: Facebook.

The corporation that owned a central Canberra supermarket has been fined $16,500 for several food safety breaches, including having food products for sale past their use-by date.

The Supa IGA Liquor Plus supermarket in East Row, Civic, had been owned and operated by a corporation called Rising Wood Pty Ltd, which pleaded guilty to nine charges.

It was convicted and fined a total of $16,500 in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (17 August).

The supermarket had been managed in part by 50-year-old Javid Osman, who pleaded guilty to hindering a territory public official and was fined $1000 last month.

When it came to Rising Wood’s offences, Magistrate James Lawton said an employee of the corporation had rubbed off best-before dates on drink products.

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The same employee also removed bread from its original packaging and placed it into packaging that didn’t have a best-before date.

Magistrate Lawton said an inspection in November 2021 found a number of food items that were for sale past their use-by date.

The inspection also revealed the corporation had failed to maintain the conditions of the supermarket premises, with the inspectors finding rusted shelving and a large hole underneath a handwash basin.

two men leaving court

Javid Osman (right) leaves court with his lawyer, Peter Bevan, after being fined $1000 earlier this year. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The magistrate said another inspection in March 2022 examined an upstairs area of the supermarket that was being used to cook and store food for sale.

It was noted as being critically non-compliant when it came to the preparation of food, he said.

For instance, there was no adequate facility to wash hands, inappropriate storage temperatures, a failure to properly exhaust fumes and smoke, and food was stored on the floor.

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Other charges related to running a food business while not registered and not having a food safety supervisor.

Magistrate Lawton said the offences were committed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a period when foot traffic to the supermarket had dramatically decreased, as did the turnover.

The charges Rising Wood pleaded guilty to included one count of misleading conduct relating to the sale of food, two counts of the handling and sale of unsuitable food and three counts of non-compliance with the food standards code.

It has 12 months to pay the fine.

After the court had ended, ACT Health Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman released a statement welcoming the ruling, saying it was the first prosecution under the Food Act 2001 undertaken by the authority since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“ACT Health tries to work collaboratively with food business to ensure food for sale is both safe and suitable for human consumption,” Dr Coleman said.

“Prosecution is always a last resort, and in most cases we can work with food businesses to ensure they can maintain effective systems and processes to deliver on their obligations under the Food Act 2001.

“However, ACT Health has a responsibility to protect public safety and ensure food businesses are operating in a way that does not pose a risk to the health of Canberrans.”

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