It’s voluntary and sucks: Brisbane’s EatSafe program adopted by other Australian councils

Brisbane City Council’s food hygiene rating system EatSafe has been adopted by other councils, a move that has been hailed as proof of the success of the often-maligned program.’s not proof of anything, other than bureaucratic self-congratulation.

The program, developed by the LNP administration in 2010, replaced an annual visit by council food safety inspectors to all Brisbane food vendors with one that awards them a star rating.

Restaurants awarded a three star rating still receive a yearly inspection, while those awarded a four star rating receive a visit from council officers every second year.

Those with a five star rating are inspected every third year.

According to lifestyle chairman Krista Adams, four councils – two in Queensland and two in Tasmania – have now adopted the system pioneered in Brisbane, which she said brings a greater degree of transparency to the city’s restaurants, cafes and takeaway food sellers.  

Cr Adams said 91 per cent of the city’s more than 6000 food outlets had been deemed by EatSafe inspectors to be operating at a three star level or above.

However, her comments promoting the success of the program came in the same week it was revealed a South Bank restaurant awarded four stars had been prosecuted over a woman finding a cockroach in her risotto in April last year.

Council Opposition Leader Milton Dick described the reduction in annual visits as a “cop out. … It’s more PR than actually tackling food safety standards in Brisbane.

“In principle it is sounds good but in practice it doesn’t deliver what it says it will.”

Brisbane restaurants fined $338,000 for breaches

The Courier-Mail reports more than 14 Brisbane (that’s in Australia) food businesses have been prosecuted by Brisbane City Council and fined a total of $338,000 for breaching food safety and hygiene standards during the past 13 months.

Photographs taken inside some Brisbane businesses during snap inspections by council officers revealed messy work benches, cobwebs, rusty pipes, dirty utensils and dead rodents in traps.

One South Brisbane restaurant was fined $22,000 in July after it was found guilty of six breaches of the Food Act.

The findings come as council finishes inspecting the last of Brisbane’s eateries in preparation for the launch of its Eat Safe food rating program.

From November, the city’s food businesses will voluntarily place ratings from two to five stars in their windows, under the scheme first revealed by The Courier-Mail in February.

So far, 4028 businesses have been inspected in preparation for the launch.

About 2504 received a rating of three stars or more and 1524 businesses scored two stars or less.

Of those, 493 businesses received a poor rating because they did not have a nominated food safety supervisor.

Eat Safe Brisbane will award five stars for excellent compliance with the state’s Food Act and Food Safety Standards.