Fancy restaurant didn’t know how to cool food; three sickened

In one of the lamest food safety excuses ever tabled, defence lawyer Adrian Gundelach told the Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday — with a straight face — that Harem Restaurant, routinely left dishes out to cool at room temperature for eight hours, stating,

"It was something that my clients couldn’t have foreseen. They’d been following a practice that they’ve been following since the day the restaurant opened."

That practice led to three people barfing up Clostridium perfringens after dining at the upscale Brisbane eatery in July. An additional 16 people at the function also reported symptoms, but were not confirmed after failing to return health sample kits to Queensland Health.

The Harem restaurant in Brisbane, Australia, is listed in the Best Restaurants Guide of Australia as follows:

"Be an Ottoman prince for the evening: sit on sumptuous cushions shrouded by curtains, feast on finger food and enjoy a night of belly-shaking. There’s no confusion as to what type of restaurant Harem is; the dining room is a riot of handmade rugs, multi-coloured tablecloths, brass lamps and cushions, all imported from Turkey, and the carpeted floorspace is patrolled by fez-hatted wait staff."

The judge wasn’t amused and fined the restaurant $20,000.

The restaurant has since changed its cooling techniques.

Pay more attention to food safety basics and less food pornography.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time