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Restaurant prosecuted as Council reinforces hard line on public safety

Knox City Council has achieved a significant prosecution under the Food Act, after the former proprietors of a Wantirna South restaurant plead guilty to twelve charges related to the condition of the premises, food safety and hygiene practices.

The two people charged had been directors of a company which had been the proprietor of Wantirna South restaurant Paesano’s.

The charges, which spanned the period 17 December 2018 to 25 January 2019, included:

  • failing to maintain adequate hand washing facilities,
  • failing to store potentially hazardous food under temperature control,
  • failing to eradicate pests from the premises,
  • failing to store food in a manner that it was protected from the likelihood of contamination,
  • failing to keep the premises, equipment and food contact surfaces clean,
  • failing to maintain the premises and equipment in a good state of repair, and
  • failing to comply with an order of Council.

Magistrate Starvaggi at the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court indicated that he wanted to send a strong message to the industry and fined each of the accused $25,000 with conviction, as well as an order to pay costs of $271.40 each.

Knox City Council Mayor, Cr Nicole Seymour said the closure and subsequent prosecution of the proprietors came after a long period of attempted cooperation by Council.

“The safety of residents and visitors to Knox is paramount, and we monitor and prosecute food safety risks under the Food Act to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy dining out in Knox free of any concern for their health,” said Cr Seymour.

“Council always aims to work with our local businesses to achieve compliance and promote best practice, and this prosecution is an example of the serious consequences when businesses fail to cooperate and put their customers and our community at risk.”

Paesano’s restaurant was closed in May 2019. The accused informed the court that the company had gone into liquidation and that they were bankrupt, however they are still involved in another food business. Magistrate Starvaggi took into account the importance of general and specific deterrence in this case and stated that whilst they may have been bankrupt, they still had an obligation to provide safe food.

Knox Council regularly undertakes compliance activities to ensure local businesses are adhering to legal requirements and best practice in food safety, in order to protect the health of residents and visitors to Knox. In circumstances where businesses are persistently non-compliant or fail to cooperate with Council officers, further enforcement measures such as infringements or prosecutions may be sought.

Issued: Thursday 19 December 2019
Knox Community and Council Plan 2017-2021

Knox Community and Council Plan 2017-2021 Reference:

Goal 4. We are safe and secure

Strategy 4.4 - Protect and promote public health, safety and amenity.

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