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Whangarei duo fined for falsifying certificate

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Not displaying a current food grading certificate and tampering (falsifying) a grading certificate from a D to a B grade has landed a local take-away food business in hot water.

Whangarei District Council’s Environmental Health Officers had issued a D grade grading certificate to a local food business operator, due to serious food hygiene concerns.

During a follow up visit Officers realised that the operator had tampered with or falsified the certificate, by placing a B grade symbol over the D grade symbol.

"Our case was that the offenders wanted to avoid customer reaction to a D grade, and that this was a blatant attempt to mislead potential customers," said Council’s Health and Bylaws Manager Reiner Mussle.

"The falsified certificate was confiscated and the operator was issued with a new D grade certificate, with instruction that this had to be placed in full public view. Following a complaint and subsequent visits, it was found that the operator was not displaying any certificate.

"The Bylaw requires the certificate to be displayed. That ensures that the public readily can see the grading and make an informed decision where to buy food. After finding the first certificate had been altered and that the new, correct one was not on display, Council’s view was that the actions were deliberate and intended to mislead the public.

"Actions like this have the potential to damage the integrity of the system which exists to keep people safe. In a first for Whangarei District Council, the operator was prosecuted under the Local Government Act for breaching the Bylaw.

"The two defendants appeared in the Whangarei District Court, pleaded guilty and were fined $600 each for their part in this matter, including court costs.

"Council is satisfied that this conviction will serve as a warning to all Council registered food business operators to display their most recent grading certificate, not to alter certificates, and to be aware that Council will prosecute when there are breaches," Mr Mussle said.

Council’s food grading system

Whangarei District Council’s Food Business Grading Bylaw 2016 requires all eligible food businesses, registered with the Council, to be issued with a food hygiene Grade following their audit or inspection.

This bylaw also requires restaurants and takeaways to display their current grading certificate at the entrance to the premises or place it where it is readily visible. It is an offence under the Bylaw not to display a current grading certificate or where it cannot be readily seen by a member of the public.

Food hygiene practises are graded:

A - Excellent

B - Good

C - Adequate

D - Poor

Most of the certificates issued by Council are for A or B grades. For a premises to achieve a D grade, substantial food hygiene and/or handling concerns will exist and Officers will continue to work closely with the operators to achieve better compliance and reduce potential risk to the public.

More information on the Food Premises Grading Bylaw page -  http://www.wdc.govt.nz/PlansPoliciesandBylaws/bylaws/Pages/FoodPremisesGradingBylaw.aspx

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