Posted on 25 June 2014.
EXCLUSIVE: The owner of a Rockingham seafood shop will have to pay a $48,000 fine after his premises were found to be infested with rodents.
An appeal judgment published this week by Supreme Court judge Lindy Jenkins reveals that on May 8 last year, at a seafood outlet at the Golden Ponds complex in Baldivis, mouse droppings, flies, dead cockroaches and a dead mouse were found.
After an inspection that day, City of Rockingham health inspectors noted there was a substantial rodent infestation at the complex which also houses a function centre, caravan park and tourist chalets.
In January this year, Golden Ponds owner Antonio Vincenzo Pannacchione was fined $72,000 for a raft of offences under the state Food Act. This week’s appeal judgment by Justice Jenkins delivered Pannacchione a partial victory, with his original fine slashed to $48,000.
In the Rockingham Magistrates Court hearing that had led to the $72,000 fine the city’s lawyer alleged there were no use-by dates or country of origin labels on packaged oysters, crabs, crayfish, prawns, lamb rissoles, hamburger rissoles, and samosas sold at Golden Ponds.
Mussels were alleged to have been stored at 14 degrees Celsius when they should have been chilled below five degrees.
Although Justice Jenkins found parts of the original fine excessive, she concluded the rodent and insect infestation was a “particularly serious” offence.
She noted that Golden Ponds was a significant enterprise that attracted lots of customers.
She observed there had been a very high potential for harm to anyone consuming seafood bought from Golden Ponds, especially since seafood could become hazardous when incorrectly managed.
Justice Jenkins noted Pannacchione had demonstrated a questionable level of remorse and that he had previously been warned by the city.
She added there had been little improvement in business practices between an earlier health inspection on May 1 last year and the May 8 one during which the rodent infestation was detected.
She considered that, at least at the time of the offences, Golden Ponds had demonstrated “a systemic failure to adopt appropriate standards of cleanliness and food handling”.
The May 1 inspection arose from a complaint by a customer who had bought frozen crabs from Golden Ponds with no date marked on the package advising when the crabs had been cooked. The crabs had tasted “off”, with the result they could not be consumed.