Name and shame next for Canberra; website disclosure and person-in-charge to start

Canberra continues to take babysteps toward restaurant inspection disclosure by setting up a name-and-shame website after new food safety legislation was passed by the Legislative Assembly yesterday.

Under the new laws, which were supported by all three parties, businesses will have to display their registration certificates, and a closure notice if the government issues them with a prohibition order.

Eateries will also be required to have a trained food safety officer on site to ensure businesses are meeting hygiene regulations.

The new laws come 12 months after an investigation by The Canberra Times revealed restaurants that had breached food safety laws would not be named publicly on the grounds it might jeopardise their commercial viability.

The protection was offered despite ACT Health issuing dozens of warnings to ACT businesses urging them to clean their unhygienic kitchens and banning businesses from selling meals on seven occasions because of fears customers might be poisoned.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the passage of the food amendment bill yesterday was ”a pivotal step forward in improving food safety and regulatory transparency”.

”Unfortunately over the past year gaps in the knowledge of the people who work in the industry have been discovered,” Ms Gallagher said.

Ms Gallagher said food businesses would be given 18 months to train and implement their food safety supervisors.

She added that a dedicated food safety directorate had been formed at the Health Protection Service to improve the management of food safety in the ACT.

Greens MLA Amanda Bresnan said the next step to improving food hygiene in the ACT was to implement a system similar to the Scores on Doors scheme in NSW, where businesses display a food safety rating in their windows.