Sydney inspectors to swab kitchens in foodservice crackdown

Sydney restaurants and cafes will be subjected to random swabs of their kitchens and cooking equipment to test for the presence of bacteria under a new program to begin next year.

As part of new enhanced program to be conducted by the City of Sydney council, health inspectors will take samples for testing from food preparation areas including from chopping boards, bench tops and dish clothes as part of their routine inspections.

The swabs will be tested for Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria — two forms of bacteria which can contribute to food poisoning and illness.

City of Sydney chief executive officer Monica Barone told Hospitality magazine the sampling program reflects the high expectations of the million city workers, visitors and residents who rely on cafes, restaurants and sandwich shops every day, adding,

“As a global city and Australia’s leading culinary destination, people expect a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene at the restaurants and cafes where we all eat. … These sampling measures go above and beyond mandatory legislative requirements and provide customers with added reassurance that the kitchen surfaces used for the preparation of food are being monitored.”

The enhanced measures are part of the City of Sydney’s thorough inspection program of the 3,000 Central Sydney and inner city restaurants, cafes and food premises. Barone said not all premises will be tested, but random samples may be taken at anytime.

Premises found to have elevated levels will be re-inspected and staff given advice and training on hygiene practices. Premises found to continually return elevated readings may be issued with warning notices and fines – which are published on the NSW Food Authority’s website.