Natasha Rudra June 08, 2012
Conditions at Pho Phu Quoc Vietnamese Restaurant in Dickson. restaurant2.jpg Photo: Supplied
A Dickson restaurant has been fined $7627 after health inspectors found kitchen surfaces heavily caked in grease during a visit in February last year.
The Pho Phu Quoc restaurant was shut down for a week for an “extreme build-up” of grease but was thoroughly cleaned and has passed routine checks ever since, the ACT Magistrates Court heard.
The court heard the restaurant’s woes could be traced back to 2009 when it was set on fire in a suspected arson attack.
The eaterie’s parent company Pho Phu Quoc Vietnamese Restaurant pleaded guilty to two breaches of the food standards code.
Defence lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith told the court that the company was essentially a one-man operation and owner Tuan Doan had run the business without complaints until 2009 when the restaurant was struck by a suspected arson attack.
Mr Doan had to close Pho Phu Quoc for nearly a year and he and his family were forced to live off his savings without any income.
Mr Kukulies-Smith said the closure led to relationship problems between Mr Doan and his wife and when the restaurant reopened in 2010 he decided to focus on his family instead of working in the kitchen.
The court heard Mr Doan hired a chef to run the restaurant while he tried to rebuild his relationship with his wife and spent more time with his family.
Mr Kukulies-Smith said the kitchen was “quite clearly … disgraceful” and had an extreme build-up of grease on pipes, counter tops, stoves and taps.
There was also a broken tap which meant staff had nowhere to wash their hands except in the restaurant toilets.
He said Mr Doan had since fired the chef and returned to work in the restaurant to ensure good cleanliness and hygiene.
Prosecutor Michael Clark said it was apparent from photographs taken by a health inspector that the state of the kitchen did not occur overnight but submitted that a fine was an appropriate penalty.
Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker said it didn’t take much imagination to form the view that the kitchen was so dirty that conditions could lead to illness.
She said it was the first occasion that Pho Phu Quoc had come to the attention of authorities and action had been taken to clean up the restaurant.
There had been no breaches since.
But she said restaurant owners and workers had a responsibility to maintain a hygienic environment.
“They hold the health of other members of the community in their hands,” she said.
“We all the know the terrible effects that can result from infected food.”
She fined Pho Phu Quoc a total of $7627, including court costs.