How NOT to be on the Food Hall of Shame

The worst thing that can happen to any catering business is not having any customers. What if the reason you have no customers is because you’ve gained a reputation for making people ill? Potential customers thinking your eatery has unhygienic practices could cripple your business but actually giving someone food poisoning? That could put it in the ground.

Named and Shamed

In 2016 the Brisbane City Council named, shamed and prosecuted 41 restaurants for food safety regulations breaches, slapping those businesses with fines that totalled almost $1m. Some of these fines were for not following basic practices such as hand washing! 96% of Brisbane’s food trucks received exceptionally high food safety standards in 2016 so there is no excuse for bad practice in any business.

“There’s no excuse for breaking the Food Act of 2006.”
– Mark Furhmeister, RML Trainer

Food standards are improving overall but that hasn’t stopped inspectors feeling ‘horrified’ at some of the premises they inspect. It seems as though a few lazy practices quickly snowball into multiple, and prosecutable, infractions. The Food Standards Commission estimates there are over five million food related illnesses in Australia every year causing millions of absences from work and school and even around 100 deaths.

Training Requirement Confusion

These absences, illnesses and tragic deaths are completely avoidable if basic food safety requirements are met. In Queensland, food handlers are not required to have formal training however across the whole of Australia it is a legal requirement that food handlers are trained in food safety. Confusing, right?

Perhaps part of the confusion is only Food Safety Supervisors are required to receive training and certification from a Registered Training Organisation. Food handlers are not legally required to receive certification or training from an RTO and can be trained in-house. This means the full responsibility of training falls on the business owner and it is here that many can be faulted for trusting that their staff knows that they are doing – especially if they hire people with experience.

Andrew Schlaer, our Training Manager, explains:

“Every food license business by law must have a food safety supervisor and that food safety supervisor is registered with the local government. They are then responsible for that particular venue or business to ensure that all workers that are handling food are trained in food safety or food handling techniques”

A few cut corners here and new staff learning bad practice from old hands and it’s easy to see how quickly poor food safety can spread and get a business in the Food Hall of Shame. Even with a qualified Food Safety Supervisor businesses can suffer from noncompliant practices as the supervisor isn’t required to be on the premises at all times.


There are penalties for business owners who fail to adhere to the regulations and noncompliance can result in a fine or being shut down with immediate effect. That’s why it’s so important to ensure everyone is properly trained to the right standards. Mark describes the severity of potential punishments:

“The worst possible scenario is the Environmental Health Officer issues a fine for the full 2,000 penalty units, with each single penalty unit costing $117.80. It could even lead to up to 2 years in prison.”

Food Safety Tips

Here are top food safety tips from some of our team.

  • Understand temperatures and the danger zone of 5-60 degrees Celsius. Bacteria can grow extremely quickly in this range so store food below 5oC to prevent growth and cook it over 60oC to kill off bacteria with heat. – Andrew Schlaer, RML Training Manager

  • Don’t cut corners with food safety. You won’t get away with it and you don’t want to be called out for it. – Michelle Lockyear, RML Trainer

  • Ensure you are familiar with food standards and pay special attention to the two keywords in the Food Act 2006: food must be safe and suitable. – Mark Furhmeister, RML Trainer

Knowing food safety practices can help keep your business compliant and your customers safe from the perils of food poisoning. RML Hospitality Training can help ensure you are on the right track and as Andrew says:

“At the end of the day, with the qualified and experienced team members at RML providing the training, your staff will gain a much better insight and understanding of food safety laws that will enable them to implement strategies to ensure that their business remains food safe.”