Food premises inspections ratings decline, says regulatory food officer

Of 40 food premises inspected in the Upper Lachlan, 17 have been told to improve their business operations.

Consultant David Hook, of Building and Environmental Services Today, was sent to inspect 42 premises.

Two were not inspected as one had closed and the other sold to a new owner.

The inspections assessed, for example: cleaning and sanitising; maintenance of premises, fixtures and fittings; and design, construction, pest and food handling controls.

Mr Hook also gauged whether businesses had appointed a mandatory Food Safety Supervisor.

No business was fined, but 27 were rated below five stars in some standards, and 17 were sent warning letters.

Mr Hook's summary indicated this year's ratings had dropped compared with last year.

A NSW Food Authority spokesperson said the council was authorised to inspect under the Food Act in compliance with the Food Standards Code.

The five-star system is based on 'Scores on Doors', a national food hygiene rating scheme.

The hospital and aged care homes were excluded from inspection; as were childcare centres, as none in the Shire prepare food, a council spokesperson said.

The council refused to identify the 17 businesses sent letters. "The council is unable to provide specific details of actions taken against individual businesses," mayor John Stafford said.

"The Shire is a small community; individual businesses may be identifiable should that information be disclosed."

ULSC acting general manager Andrew Croke said Scores on Doors was "not a mandatory program".

"Participation in the program requires resourcing that the council's environment and planning department is currently unable to accommodate," he said.

Mr Hook's report showed about 40 percent of businesses (15) did not have a trained Food Safety Supervisor, which is a legal requirement.

The report also showed a number of businesses were renovating without development consent, for example; the extension of food preparation areas; and changes to the eateries layout.

Mr Hook identified a business that the council was not aware as operating.

A spokesperson from the council said a premise which is open, altered or renovated must be compliant with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Mr Croke said the environment and planning department will take action.

Rating system for Upper Lachlan eateries: 15 premises rated five stars; 17 rated four stars; and ten were rated three stars. Photo: Naim Benjelloun

Rating system for Upper Lachlan eateries: 15 premises rated five stars; 17 rated four stars; and ten were rated three stars. Photo: Naim Benjelloun