The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “Peter Sutherland is a clean and tidy-looking man as would be expected of a NSW Food Authority employee. His uniform is neatly pressed and his spectacles are sparkling. His unassuming appearance would easily go unnoticed in a busy restaurant.”
That’s not an accurate description of Peter. He’s dashing in his own way, and has a healthy sense of humor.
”My job is not necessarily just about inspecting the kitchen, it is about observing people’s behaviour,” Sutherland (ritght, pic from SMH) says, his eyes slowly scanning the sink of dirty dishes, stove top and fridge. ”It is amazing how quickly people forget an officer is in the kitchen.”
Sutherland prefers the title of food safety officer to health inspector to describe the work of council officers who visit restaurants. The NSW Food Authority gathers the results from these inspections and publishes them in an annual report card.
According to the latest report card in October, restaurant standards are improving. But hundreds still end up on the NSW Food Authority name-and-shame list, updated weekly.
It is questionable whether most home kitchens in Sydney would live up to the same standards. My kitchen, for one, would be a shoo-in to be named and shamed.
”It is amazing how many people don’t wash their hands – 35 per cent admit to only remembering to wash their hands after they have started cooking,” he says.
The tea towel is another of Sutherland’s bugbears. Like chopping boards – which should be scrubbed between uses and regularly given a ”good dose of sunlight” – tea towels are a common source of cross-contamination. ”You use the tea towel to dry the dishes, wipe the bench, maybe wipe the floor and then you might wipe your child’s nose,” he says.