A bakery in Sydney’s south behind a Salmonella outbreak that affected more than 200 people last year has been hit with a $122,000 fine.
The owners of the Box Village Bakery in Sylvania, Thi Thu Ngo and Hung Son Le were each fined $61,000 after pleading guilty to five breaches of selling unsafe food and five breaches of failing to meet food safety standards. They were also ordered to pay $7,199 in professional costs.
All up, there were 203 documented cases of people who presented to hospitals or doctors with gastroenteritis symptoms after eating food linked to the bakery, including chicken rolls and salads in January 2016.
One woman was forced to undergo an emergency caesarean and deliver her baby five weeks early when she became violently ill after eating a hot chicken roll with gravy from the bakery.
Ashley Buchanan gave birth to her daughter Ava at Wollongong Hospital, and was admitted to intensive care after her caesarean surgery.
“It was all quite frightening, because my blood pressure went right down; they had to rush me to ICU straight after the delivery,” Ms Buchanan said at the time.
“My husband was actually in hospital at the time, but because he was sick he wasn’t allowed to come into the theatre with me to see the birth, so it was all very stressful and frightening.”
A number of children also fell ill: Engadine building contractor Damian Sullivan said his 11-year-old son Cooper was hospitalised after eating a chicken salad roll.
“Cooper started feeling sick on Sunday night and when we took him to the GP on Monday he said, ‘take him straight to hospital’,” Mr Sullivan said at the time.
The business was forced to close while the NSW Food Authority investigated the outbreak, and was only permitted to reopen after the owners thoroughly cleaned the premises and completed extensive work to make sure it was fully compliant with food safety laws.
The Food Authority also tested the skills and knowledge of staff and management to improve their food safety knowledge, and inspected the bakery a number of times after its reopening.
The bakery has since changed hands: the bakery told the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader new owners had taken over five months ago and changed its name to Sun Valley Bakehouse.
NSW Food Authority chief executive Dr Lisa Szabo said the fines were a reminder that proper food safety is crucial.
“Consumers have the right to have confidence and certainty that the food they purchase and consume is safe to eat and won’t harm the health of them or their family,” Dr Szabo said.
However on Facebook, people who had been affected by the Salmonella outbreak were saying the fine was not enough.
“I lost a 15k job cause I was bed ridden for eight days. As far as I’m concerned the business should be closed down,” said plumber Matthew Cherry.
“I’m sure if I did something that resulted in 203 people showing up to hospital I would be no longer trading”.
Others said they had never been so sick, and the money from the fines should be distributed to people who had fallen ill.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald