Restaurants challenge ‘name and shame’ in Sydney

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a Sydney restaurant is considering legal action against the NSW Food Authority over its controversial name-and-shame website.

Satasia opened in Balmain 28 years ago and has become one of the most popular restaurants in Sydney’s inner west.

The owner, Andrew Lum, says that reputation is in tatters after his eatery was fined by the Food Authority, then included on its name-and-shame list alongside rat- and cockroach-infested restaurants.

The database was launched in July to try to improve hygiene standards.

But Mr Lum and other restaurateurs argue its format is unfair.

Several businesses, including Satasia, have consulted lawyers about suing the State Government.

But the Food Authority appears to be immune from legal action, including defamation, under section 133G of the 2003 Food Act, which states: "No liability is incurred by the state, the minister or the Food Authority, for publishing in good faith any information contained on a register."

A University of Sydney senior law lecturer, David Rolph, said,

"The Food Authority clearly takes the view that when you balance it out between the rights of the trader and the right of the public not to consume food prepared in unsafe places, public interest has to prevail."

Lavender Blue Cafe, at McMahons Point, joined the list in November after receiving a fine for a broken probe thermometer. The manager, Andrew Menczel, said: "The list is a good idea in principle but to lump everyone together is wrong. There should be clearer categories for different offences.”