Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where's my PhD student?

I had a scheduled meeting with my PhD student this morning, but she didn't turn up.  I got a somewhat graphic text message, saying that she had food poisoning.  It seems that she, her partner and two friends went out for dinner in a restaurant in Auckland on Saturday.  They all appear to have food poisoning.

Of course, this doesn't prove that the restaurant was responsible.  Indeed, her description of the symptoms and time of onset make me wonder if another common source was involved.

However, a TVNZ One News investigation shows that on average, one Auckland food establishment per week has been shut down this year because of safety or cleanliness violations.

An Auckland City Council Environmental Health spokesperson said that the increase in closures was a result of tougher action by health inspectors in response to unsatisfactory performance and suggested that this was partly because of the economic recession - companies were selling food that would previously have been thrown out.

A disturbing statistic given in the TVNZ report is that over 100 restaurants and cafes are still operating, despite poor hygiene ratings, though to be fair, businesses are given the opportunity to clean up their act before being closed down if they don't improve.

This report begs the question "If inspectors had previously found unsatisfactory conditions in food outlets, why didn't they close them down at the time?  What has changed in the requirements to serve wholesome, safe food in clean premises?"

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