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Noble Palace keeps on swinging over food safety

By johnboy - 12 June 2012 11

This in from the Noble Palace:

Noble Palace would like to advise our customers that we have posted an update on our website outlining our view on the current food safety debate.

http://noblepalace.com.au/

Over this long weekend we noticed a new set of articles and announcements published in the Canberra Times discussing the issue of Food Safety and the ACT Government’s plans for the next few years.

Although we are happy to see some response from the ACT Government, we get the impression that diverting the discussion away from the current procedural inadequacies and instead proposing an arguably more elaborate system does not the address current concerns from business. We think these public announcements are missing the point and may confuse people on what is really in question here.

With both the ACT Auditor General’s report and the KMPG Impact Statement mentioning concerns of serious deficiencies in the procedures of the ACT Health Protection Service, we are disappointed that the ACT Government does not appear to be as concerned about it as we are.

Reading through the arduous KMPG Impact Statement and also the media rhetoric, it appears they’ve missed the point and the opportunity for productive debate. There is a lot of mention of improving transparency in the food services industry with various obligations by businesses in moving forward, however there is little talk of whether the current procedures are working properly and what ACT Health are doing to ensure they are consistently implementing their current monitoring activities throughout restaurants in the ACT and what they will do to ensure any future activities are implemented properly. Without such assurances from the ACT Government and with shifting goal posts, it’s difficult to see how we can look forward as restaurant owners.

As small business owners ourselves, we have no particular preference for the type of monitoring system implemented by ACT Health, whether it’s a simple Pass/Fail outcome or a more involved Ratings Score, however our concern is that any system chosen by the ACT Government is implemented in a fair, open and consistent manner with standard procedures and therefore a meaningful result. We also have no particular issue with the current laws of requiring the display of closure notices, the publishing of a public register or the training of designated food safety staff.

In terms of the proposed “Scores on Doors” system, the idea of aggregating a myriad of individual assessments and reports into a single, easily identifiable icon, could easily result in the unintended consequence of even less transparency, by masking the agency’s own procedures and suppressing more helpful information such as inspections reports, improvement notices and compliance activities by businesses themselves. There is no mention of what other information will be published in order to give the public a more complete view than just a simple rating and to ensure transparency on both ends.

For reference, this is what the ACT Auditor General’s office had to say after their December 2011 Audit of the ACT Health Protection Service:

“at the time of Audit, the Health Protection Service had not developed formal policies and procedures to guide staff in implementing enforcement actions. This contributed to staff adopting different work practices”

“poor record-keeping practices raise doubts about…the effective management of enforcement activities by the Health Protection Service”

“Audit is unable to form a view on whether the food businesses identified as non-compliant have acted to fully meet the food safety requirements specified in the notices.”

“Nor can Audit form a view on whether the Health Protection Service has implemented correct procedures to ensure compliance by the businesses”

“the Health Protection Service has a reactive approach to monitoring non-compliance and in the longer-term this may compromise food safety”

“record keeping which was found to be inadequate”

“poor documentation and record-keeping practices by the Health Protection Service prevents Audit from reaching a conclusion that the Health Protection Service is effectively managing the registration and renewal…of food businesses in the ACT”

“For transparency and accountability purposes, important decisions and the reasons for a particular action should always be fully documented”

“the audit found shortcomings in the ACT Health Protection Service’s administration of food safety that need to be addressed to provide the community assurance that the food they buy and eat is safe”

It is beyond our understanding how a service with the above shortcomings can claim to implement the Food Act in a fair, consistent and open manner.

What’s Your opinion?


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11 Responses to
Noble Palace keeps on swinging over food safety
jules_from_latham 6:43 am 11 Oct 13

DrKoresh said :

Look, as far as reasonable H&S precautions go I think most food businesses in the A.C.T are perfectly fine and not worth worrying about, but on the flipside I think that you would be hard pressed to find any business that would pass an unexpected visit from the health inspector. Food prep is messy but as long as hygiene is maintained to a reasonable level you’re very, very unlikely to become ill eating at any of these establishments, even the red-noted ones. I would bet that the majority of food poisoning caused by eating out would be from ingesting ingredients which were passed their use-by date.

Hmm, I think DrKoresh may not be a food safety expert! There is a difference between ‘messy’ food preparation and appropriate food safety as any trained food safety auditor would tell you.

Use by dates are very rarely used in Australia anymore, since the legislative requirements changed over 10 years ago. We use best before dates now for majority of food, and sometimes use by. The subtle but important difference is best before means it is ok to eat past the date if its been handled correctly, whereas use by means eat prior to the date or risk illness.

Mostly food will spoil before they will make you ill. Food microbiologists categorise food microbes into two categories – food spoilage organisms and pathogens. Pathogens obviously can make you sick and it is highly desirable that we have some controls over food businesses to ensure they handle food safely to avoid or minimise the presence of pathogens in our food. Food spoilage organisms are what food scientists dedicate their lives to trying to reduce their impact through preservation techniques. Tough gig though, the little buggers are persistent.

Another point to consider – despite what most people think, it is seldom the last food that you ate that causes the illness. It takes at least 6 hours after you ingest the contaminated food for the pathogenic microbes to replicate sufficiently to cause illness. It can take up to 6 weeks. That means it can be anything you ate in the last 6 hours to 6 weeks. Epidemiologists look at symptoms and take samples to work out the pathogenic microbe at fault, and then look at food history to try to determine what caused the illness. Hit and miss stuff, but when they can pinpoint it, it provides a wealth of information about this stuff so that we can better understand what happens. So how does anyone really know what caused their illness??

Food for thought…

c_c™ 8:08 pm 10 Oct 13

Yep, to Top Taste Seafood. Wonder if the owners changed, or if it’s a rebrand to escape any stigma of the old name.

Zan 7:32 pm 10 Oct 13

However it is no longer Noble Palace. It has changed its name to something to do with ???? Seafood or Seafood ???, can’t remember which though.

c_c™ 6:51 pm 10 Oct 13

I’m surprised this didn’t get followed up, happened to come across the outcome of the matter today.

They were convicted with 7 breaches of s 27(1) of the Food Act and fined a total of $8250. They’ll be on the register until Sep 2015.

Looks like the owner’s arguments didn’t hold up.

Cantoangel 5:21 pm 13 Jun 12

Dilandach said :

I noticed on sunday that the Dimsim Dumpling house on Cohen st in Belconnen had copped a red notice.

I tried calling them last Saturday and it rung out so I went for a drive to see if they were open and noticed this too. I wonder when they actually got the notice since my housemate said she ate there the week before… I would have thought that they would have been slapped a lot earlier given how they prepare the food 😛

There’s the old saying…. the dirtier the place is, the better tasting the food!

frannjipani 6:53 pm 12 Jun 12

Did the health inspectors check the quality of the live seafood tanks?

DrKoresh 11:51 am 12 Jun 12

Look, as far as reasonable H&S precautions go I think most food businesses in the A.C.T are perfectly fine and not worth worrying about, but on the flipside I think that you would be hard pressed to find any business that would pass an unexpected visit from the health inspector. Food prep is messy but as long as hygiene is maintained to a reasonable level you’re very, very unlikely to become ill eating at any of these establishments, even the red-noted ones. I would bet that the majority of food poisoning caused by eating out would be from ingesting ingredients which were passed their use-by date.

XO_VSOP 11:38 am 12 Jun 12

What a lot of hot air. The argument has no merit. Rules are rules ! I think it’s a pushy son or daughter of the owner that is beating the why us drum ! anytime I have dealt with them I get the “we no speak a no English”.

maya 11:04 am 12 Jun 12

Hutch you’re right let the debate stay here with the populist vote, don’t worry about others having a say, even if they have a larger stake in it than you.

thehutch 10:15 am 12 Jun 12

I intend not to eat at the Noble Palace until its management starts to spend less time debating food safety laws and more of its time ensuring a safe and clean kitchen.

Perhaps if they did that in the first place, they wouldn’t have any issues?

Dilandach 10:04 am 12 Jun 12

I noticed on sunday that the Dimsim Dumpling house on Cohen st in Belconnen had copped a red notice.

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