Food monitoring failure in Victoria as ‘name and shame’ register falls out-of-date

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th December 2011

Food lawyer Joe Lederman has raised serious concerns about weaknesses in the administration and monitoring of food safety enforcement in the State of Victoria.

Mr Lederman, of food law firm FoodLegal, was quoted by the Herald Sun newspaper in an investigative article on Saturday 17 December 2011. The article revealed that laws that are meant to “name and shame” Victorian food businesses that have been convicted of food safety offences, have not been enforced.

In the article, Mr Lederman stated there is a “serious lack of co-ordination” in Victoria and that “every council seems to be doing their own thing”.

He said that no-one is giving food safety the priority it deserves and that the public had a right to know if restaurants or cafes broke the law.

“Name and shame” register not being updated

The website of Victoria’s Department of Health website has stated that from 1 July 2010, details of offences under the Victorian Food Act 1984 or the regulations involving the conviction of a person by a court after that date would be publicly available on the website. The Act requires that each conviction is to be included in the register for 12 consecutive months.

However, prior to the Herald Sun article being published, the register appeared to end in late 2010. The website appears to have been suddenly updated to mention four Victorian food businesses that have been convicted of food safety offences in the past four months. However, as of today there is a gap of almost four months for which no convictions have yet been put up on the Name and Shame register.

Mr Lederman said, “The point of my criticism was that there seems to be a lack of any system, and the only change seems to have come immediately after the publication last Saturday of this revelation in the Herald Sun.”

The Australian Capital Territory Government is the latest Australian State government to introduce a ‘name and shame’ style system.