SIX local restaurants have been fined by Queanbeyan City Council for breaching food safety standards this year, each receiving $440 fines for failing to meet the required standards of cleanliness.
The restaurants, which were published on the NSW Food Authority's 'Name and Shame' register this month, include the Asia Wok restaurant at the Queanbeyan Golf Club, Capitol Takeaway on Shropshire Street, Golden Ocean on Monaro Street, Little Dragon Chinese Takeaway on Uriarra Road, Oriental Inn on Macquoid Street and Punjabi Hut on Crawford Street.
A council spokesman said inspectors from council's Environmental Health team inspect restaurants in Queanbeyan twice a year, and issued the six fines in May and June this year.
"Authorised officers have powers under the Food Act 2003 to enter and inspect any premises or food transport vehicle," the spokesman said.
"This includes a list of actions to examine the premises, open any container, take photographs, require information and take samples of any food intended for sale."
Action that food inspectors can take ranges from verbal advice and warning letters, to improvement notices and penalty notices (on the spot fines ranging between $440 and $1540 per offence), to seizure of unsafe equipment and initiating proceedings in the Local Court.
Council has issued 13 improvement notices and 49 warning letters to local eateries so far during 2012/13, and issued 11 penalty notices.
While Council wouldn't comment on the specifics of the individual breaches, the six restaurants in question were all fined for failing to "maintain premises, fixtures, fittings and equipment to the required standard of cleanliness," according to their penalty notices.
The popular 'Name and Shame' register which publicly names businesses that fail to meet food safety standards has received more than seven million hits online since it was established in 2008.
"This sends a clear message to food businesses that consumers expect high standards and are scanning the list of restaurants and other food outlets before deciding where to dine out," NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said.
"A penalty notice on the register not only acts as a potential deterrent to would be diners it also serves as a deterrent to food businesses against making food safety breaches."
The most common food safety breaches under the Food Act 2003 are cleaning and sanitation (35 per cent), temperature control (13pc), pest control - infestations, droppings (13pc), hand washing offences (13pc) and protection from contamination - storage, personal hygiene (11pc).
"The number of food businesses appearing on the register has almost halved in three years which shows the campaign is having the desired effect with more food outlets adhering to the rules," Ms Hodgkinson said.