136 hospitalized; Australian bakery fined $40,000

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Sydney bakery responsible for a food poisoning outbreak that affected 319 people, of whom 136 were admitted to hospital, has been fined more than $40,000 for breaches of the Food Act.

The NSW Food Authority closed French Golden Hot Bread, in Homebush West, in March last year after tracing a salmonella outbreak to the egg mayonnaise served with its pork and chicken rolls.

Contrary to government regulations, the egg mixture was not heat-treated or kept below the specified 5 degrees.

A faulty refrigerator was also blamed for the elevated temperature of the mayonnaise, which allowed the bacteria to develop.

The Herald also reports this morning that more than half the local councils in New South Wales, the Australian state that contains, Sydney, have not fined any food businesses caught breaking food safety laws in the past four years, raising fears that much of the state has no effective protection against food poisoning from unhygienic restaurants and cafes.

Figures provided by the Office of State Revenue, which collects payments for fines imposed by councils, show that since 2004 only 67 out of more than 150 councils imposed any fines on restaurants and takeaway food businesses flouting hygiene laws.

"If you never issue a fine, they will laugh at you," said Des Sibraa, a former chief food inspector for NSW and now a food safety consultant.

He said the only conclusion to be drawn from the fact so many councils did not issue any fines was that many of them did not have serious inspection regimes.
"There is a place for warnings, but only for any minor matters, not for anything serious … Some councils are not doing anything," Mr Sibraa said.

The silence of the poop

If a so-called public relations expert says the only way your hotel and restaurant would recover from a PR disaster is to get “a makeover from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay,” just go ahead and pack it in.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that final tests on the gelato at the centre of the Coogee Bay Hotel poop scandal have come back inconclusive, with the DNA trace too weak to identify the person responsible for the murky affair.

The NSW Food Authority has declared "case closed" after completing testing on a sample of gelato served to the Whyte family at the hotel on October 5, and which was found to contain faeces.

The DNA trace was too weak to link to any one person, Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said.

The hotel and the family reached a settlement last month, with the family being paid compensation believed to be about $60,000. Both parties have declined to discuss the matter in the wake of the settlement.

‘I’d like a large pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and band-aid’

A pizza topped with a band-aid has landed a southern Sydney Dominos Pizza on an Australian state government’s name and shame list of food safety infringements.

The New South Wales Food Authority name and shame website currently contains 317 businesses with 502 fines issued.

Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said the list was designed to stop individuals and companies that cut corners on food safety for consumers.

"The fines have been for a range of breaches including dirty premises, allowing pests into food preparation areas and inappropriate temperature control of foods.”

The website, has had over 1.4 million visitors since it was launched in July.

Sydney sandpits closed again after Salmonella found

It’s a good thing Hugh Jackman and his trainer work out at Sydney’s Bondi Beach (right, from a couple of days ago) rather than the city’s Northern Beaches, which have again been closed due to Salmonella.

In May, 2008, children’s playgrounds were closed on Sydney’s Northern Beaches after a rare form of salmonella, paratyphi B var java, normally linked to tropical fish, made dozens of toddlers seriously ill.

The sand was replaced at a cost of $140,000 but recent testing has confirmed the same Salmonella has returned.

Today, the Daily Telegraph reports that Hitchcock Park at Avalon and Winnererremy Bay at Mona Vale on the Northern Beaches have been fenced off for the second time this year, while a third South Avalon playground has not re-opened since May.

‘I’m now known as the woman who ate the poo’

The Coogee Bay Hotel in Sydney has reportedly paid compensation of somewhere between $60,000 and $200,000 to the family served poop-laden ice cream.

An agreed statement was released which said: "The owners and management acknowledge that Steven and Jessica Whyte or any of the people dining with them on the evening had no involvement in contaminating the ice-cream.

"The hotel acknowledges that the Whyte family (right, photo from Sydney Morning Herald) did not at any stage attempt to extort money from the hotel arising from the incident. The hotel regrets the hurt and distress suffered … as a result of statements that they acted improperly."

While the clarification and settlement ends a nightmare month for the family, Mrs Whyte has expressed fears she may forever be remembered. "Everywhere I go, I’m now known as the woman who ate the poo," she said. "It happens when I’m shopping, when I’m walking down the street and when I’m on the sideline watching my son at Little Athletics on a Saturday morning. I feel obliged to speak about it when people ask because everyone in the community has been so supportive."

The poop thickens: Australian ice cream tests ‘inconclusive’

The New South Wales Food Authority says that tests on whether the feces in gelato served to a family at the Coogee Bay Hotel came from an animal or a human have come back inconclusive.

So while further tests will prolong the scandal for another week, webmasters aren’t waiting.

The following is gross, but apt.

Don’t serve poop – it’s on candid camera

While awaiting DNA test results on the poop in the Australian ice cream, Sydney’s Coogee Bay Hotel has announced it will install six new security cameras, with the food preparation area to be under constant surveillance.

It has also invited NSW health authorities to do monthly inspections of the kitchen, and customers will be able to have their say about the hotel via its website, to be launched soon.

Australian ice cream positive for poop – but whose poop is it?

The New South Wales Food Authority announced a few hours ago that a sample of the gelato allegedly served to a family at the Coogee Bay Hotel in Sydney, Australia, has tested positive for fecal matter.

The sample, a small residual amount of gelato and faecal matter on a tissue, was provided by Stephen and Jessica Whyte this week.

The NSW Food Authority began an investigation yesterday and carried out a brief test that confirmed the nature of the provided sample.

It will now perform a more detailed DNA-based test that will determine if the fecal matter is animal or human, and the sex of the "provider."

The results of that test will not be known for up to a week. However, because of the length of time since the incident, it was unclear whether the tests could provide a clear outcome in the murky matter.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for the Whytes, the family who say they found the brown stuf, said the DNA testing of staff was a distraction.

The hotel also released a statement late yesterday that said the three-litre container from which the scoops of gelato had come had been cleared of any contamination.

Manager served ice cream allegedly containing poop; chef offers his DNA for testing

The gelato caper gripping Australia had several twists and a couple of great soundbites Tuesday morning (Australia time).

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that security camera footage of an incident in which staff at the Coogee Bay Hotel allegedly served a family a cup of gelato laced with human faeces shows the dessert being delivered to the family by the restaurant’s manager. …

"She was concerned about the family’s experience and she had the idea of offering a complimentary dessert to try and make some amends," said the hotel’s general manager, Tony Williams.

Meanwhile, the family’s lawyer, Steven Lewis, of Slater & Gordon, also rubbished newspaper reports the family had links to a rival pub as a "Kevin Bacon … six degrees of separation [defence]. My question is: ‘Did Kevin Bacon put the faeces in the ice-cream?"’.

Stephen and Jessica Whyte, along with their three young children and another family, were at the hotel to watch the NRL grand final, but after a series of complaints became suspicious when they were given a free bowl of gelato. "The real issue is that we were fed, as a family, shit, at someone’s pub," Mr Whyte told 2UE.

Yesterday the NSW Food Authority announced it was investigating, and the hotel’s management confirmed it had contacted Maroubra police in preparation for possible criminal charges against anyone who might have tampered with food at the hotel.

Meanwhile, the head chef at the Coogee Bay Hotel, Adam Wood, who had tendered his resignation before the incident and had continued to work at the hotel for several weeks afterwards, offered to put himself up for DNA testing.

Mr Wood’s arrival was trumpeted by the hotel’s general manager, Tony Williams, in a media statement about the hotel’s revamped beer garden this month.

"Executive Chef Adam Wood [was] poached from Japan where he headed up kitchens for the Swissotel, Osaka and Foreign Correspondent’s Press Club of Japan in Tokyo and brings extensive five star international and three hat experience with him," the statement read.

Why he resigned only weeks after being heralded as the hotel’s most senior chef remains unclear.

Kitchen Confessional: What happens in restaurant kitchens

I hear stories about what happens in kitchens. We even started a blog on it, Kitchen Confessional, but it was difficult to sustain and it got merged with barfblog.

Matthew Evans has heard a lot of stories. Evans, who was the chief restaurant reviewer for the Herald for five years and whose autobiography, Never Order Chicken On A Monday, includes a sometimes-frightening look inside restaurant kitchens, writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that with poop allegedly being served in ice cream at the Coogee Bay Hotel, everyone in Australia is talking.

Evans says most Sydney food is great, cooked well and served with care. But a tiny minority of restaurants are incredibly dangerous.

“Some of the milder things that go on in NSW restaurants include chefs visiting the dunnies in their aprons. Or dipping odiferous chicken breasts in a mild bleach solution to whiten them and eliminate the smell. But when I went on Sydney radio to talk about these kinds of things last year, the comments turned even the hairs on my neck.

"Seeing the chef sitting on the toilet as they peeled prawns, perhaps? The slightly dodgy drip tray from the pub being used in the beer batter? The chef wiping the steak inside their Y-fronts or running it around the rim of the toilet because the customer had complained that their medium-cooked steak was still pink? It has happened.

"As an apprentice I’ve been asked to take leathery-skinned pre-opened oysters, too old and whiffy to offer as natural, and top them with mornay sauce and sell them. I’ve been witness to steaks stamped on with heavy boots and retrieved from the bins, and met people who’ve dipped food in the toilet before serving it, but I’ve never seen someone pick their nose and put it in food.

"Of course I’ve seen chefs over-season food because it was off, using it in curries and the like," says one Sydney chef I spoke to who did not want to be named.

"But the worst thing I’ve ever seen with my own eyes was in England. This guy always came in late. He’d order sea bass every night right on last orders at 11.30pm and then send it back and ask for it to be recooked.

"One day [the chef] did a huge hock and put a great big greenie under it. The customer reckoned it was the best sea bass ever."