If there has ever been an incident in Victoria which highlights the importance of Food Safety training and adherence it is the one that occurred recently involving Footscray’s Hao Phong Vietnamese Restaurant.
It isn’t enough to have the proper procedures in place, in order to ensure food safety, business owners must provide staff with food safety and hygiene training, both the general state-wide course and specific training as it relates to food safety practices in the restaurant.
Recently Victoria’s health department closed the Hao Phong Restaurant after it was discovered that a food contamination which left 21 diners ill, originated at the establishment.
Diners who fell ill all ate at the restaurant between December 28th and December 31st last year and 3 of the diners had to be admitted into hospital because of the severity of the illness caused by the Salmonella outbreak originating at the popular Vietnamese restaurant.
In an article on Food Safety.com.au one diner described the episode as “hell” because she narrowly managed to escape risking the life of her baby – she was 8 months pregnant at the time. The article explains:
Two pregnant women were amongst those affected by the foodborne illness.
“It was hell,” said Anny Egan, who was eight-and-a-half months’ pregnant when dining at Hao Phong. “I thought it was gastro. I thought would my husband be able to hold the baby? Is my daughter going to be able to meet the baby?”
Egan’s husband and two-year-old daughter also became ill after dining at the Asian restaurant. So did Mark Maltar and his eight-month’s pregnant partner. The couple said they still felt ill two weeks after the initial outbreak. They have also consulted with hospital staff to assess the health risks to their unborn child.
“The advice we’ve been given is that it’s highly unlikely that the baby has been contaminated, but we have to wait and see,” he said.
This restaurant was lucky to avoid prosecution by authorities because they acted fast following the outbreak and cooperated with the health department in the aftermath of the incident. Food cooked on the premises was removed for testing and staff were ordered to conduct a thorough clean-up while the restaurant closed its’ doors.
Staff also ensured that all contaminated food stuffs and the implements that they came in contact with have were destroyed.
The Maribyrnong mayor warned businesses to err on the side of caution rather than risk a similar episode. The restaurant involved was a first time offender and cooperated with health inspectors during the investigation which is ongoing. The post went on to explain:
Maribyrnong mayor Grant Miles said the Vietnamese restaurant cooperated with all demands and did its best to assist health inspectors with their investigations. He confirmed that the eatery had never been involved in a food safety scare before. He added that there was no evidence that the restaurant was at fault this time, but insisted that it was “better to err on the side of caution.”
The local council is continuing to investigate the matter and consider what further action should be taken. It has not ruled out prosecuting Hao Phong Restaurant.