Poor pest control is starting to bug council
PEST infestations at local food outlets are on the rise and council is urging businesses to be vigilant about prevention.
"We've prosecuted one local restaurant-owner recently for failing to maintain the premises to an acceptable standard of cleanliness and for failing to prevent or get rid of pest infestations," Robert Percival, the council's Section Leader Compliance said.
"The owner was ordered by the court to pay a total of $24,000 plus $6000 court costs.
"We've also issued a number of fines and around 10 Improvement Notices over the past year to several other food business-owners to get them to clean up their act.
"These were for failing to clean up and eradicate pest infestations, failing to clean up old food debris, dirt and grease, dirty fixtures and fittings, as well as for unsafe storage of food, not using hand washing facilities and inadequate handling of food. We've also had to take action to ensure businesses increase the skills and knowledge of their food handlers.
"We found one business with open rat baits on shelving, as well as rat droppings and urine inside food storage containers. But Mr Percival said that what has prompted this particular call for better controls is that his staff had noticed an increase in pest activity over the past month.
"With the warmer weather on its way, this is only going to get worse unless food businesses stay vigilant and undertake a multi-barrier approach to their pest control regimes."
The council's environmental health officers inspect all food business with a frequency based on the risks associated with each business.
They will escalate measures to enforcement action where the business is found to be failing to meet minimum cleaning and hygiene standards.
"We would encourage all food businesses to apply a multi-barrier approach to their pest controls including looking at pest entry, pest harbourage areas, general housekeeping and cleanliness," he added.
"Spraying and baiting for pests alone is not an effective pest control programme."
Further information on pest control can be found on the NSW Food Authority website or Coffs Harbour City Council website. All on-the-spot fines and prosecutions carried out in the Coffs Harbour local government area can be found on the NSW Food Authority 'Name and Shame' website.
Coffs Harbour City Council also participates in the 'Scores on Doors' programme which rates local food businesses' compliance with hygiene and food safety requirements. For more information, go to Council's website or download the 'Scores on Doors' mobile app.