Gavin Buckett was interviewed on Sydney’s 2UE 954 Talk Back Radio yesterday. Click on the hyperlink to listen to the 5 minute interview that discusses the NSW Food Authority Name and Shame register and Chinese restaurants that seem to occupy most of the top of the list.
2UE INTERVIEW David Oldfield
CLICK ON IMAGE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
(Full Transcript Below)
Eating out is a bit of a common place thing of course in the 21st century but also a long time before that. The news is that the New South Wales Food & Safety Authority have named and shamed a whole series of restaurants and Chinese cuisine has predominantly hit the top of the list. So is it a question that the cuisine you choose may determine your chances of getting sick or is it just that we’ve got more Chinese restaurants than anything else? How does it work out?
Gavin thanks for joining me.
Thank you very much David.
Gavin Buckett is an Australian food safety specialist. Gavin is it just simply a matter of there being more Chinese food restaurants than anything else?
I think that that may be a possibility. I know looking back to my childhood that most of the multicultural food that we had sort of 20 or 30 years ago was Chinese and I also remember that every single suburb had a Chinese restaurant on most corners.
And of course the clubs, you’d go into the RSL or something and they would have a Chinese restaurant.
Yes, and I know that there’s a lot more cuisines, like Thai and the Vietnamese, around now but I think it would be important to take a look at the number of Chinese restaurants as opposed to the number of different cuisines as well.
It would be a good idea wouldn’t it if they actually did that rather than doing it on just raw numbers; apply it proportionately based on numbers of restaurants. In fact the Chinese may come in better under the ties with some of the others.
Certainly there are very, very large numbers of them. Are there hygiene issues behind some of these cultural methods that pertain to food safety; I mean we always see stories about how certain cultures do things, for example they use one hand to go to the toilet and one hand to eat their food and you know there are issues of cross contamination because it seems that maybe things aren’t all that clean. Are there elements of that in anything we might see in restaurants?
Look I’ve seen some terrible things in my time but it’s not specific to one nationality or one type of food business or anything like that. So we find that there are some businesses with different cuisines that are very, very good and there are some that aren’t. But I’ve not found in my experience, and we’ve been doing food safety now for almost 10 years, and we haven’t found that’s its specific to any one cuisine.
In fact I saw a movie the other day which was a comedy based in an American restaurant where an American chef actually went into the toilet and was standing there at the trough, you know as men do, and he had his cake spatula with him and was about to go back into the kitchen and lather up a cake.
Well I haven’t seen that but I have seen at one shopping center where a chef walked in, he was in full chef’s uniform with his apron and gloves on, he then went to the urinal and just opened to one side, finished doing what he was doing and then walked back out of the toilet without changing gloves, or washing his hands, and walked right back into his restaurant.
Well maybe he’s one of those chef’s that you know cooks with one hand and goes to the toilet with the other.
Yes, and he certainly wasn’t of Chinese descent so, like I said its not something that’s specific to one cuisine or another but yes, the importance of food safety certainly is something that all food businesses need to implement.
Yeah and I suppose, responsibly speaking, when these various name and shame things occur like the New South Wales Food Safety Authority, it would be better if they gave us a proportional understanding given the numbers of restaurants when you’re going to cut it down to cuisine. Because the report this morning did most certainly give the idea that if you were going to get sick there was more chance of it in a Chinese food restaurant; but the suspicion might be that there are simply more Chinese food restaurants so it proportionately gives the wrong impression
Yes, possibly. Like I said I don’t know the number of different Chinese or Indian or Pakistani or any of those different restaurants that are around. But I think from the name and shame website is that it indicates what penalties are being raised and that’s what the officers and inspectors are finding. I don’t think its their job to turn around and say, look there are more Chinese restaurants than others; they’re just reporting what they find, so I think it would be discriminatory if they proportionately reported what had been found.
What I’m getting at is the way the story was related though, they way the story sort of went; the suggestion was you’ve got more chance of getting sick from eating Chinese food than something else because of the raw numbers that were used. But in fact proportionately there may simply be more Chinese restaurants; so the report may have been unfair. But I suppose the very interesting thing also about the name and shame file is I wonder if you look up these things, and anyone listening if you do this, if you go to the website and have a look at any one of those name and shame restaurants, would you ever go to any one of them?
Gavin can you understand why somebody looking at these restaurants that have been caught out in the past, would just never go there again?
Very much so. I know that I was doing some training in Sydney and I didn’t know a lot about some of the cases that one of the guys in the class was talking about and I spoke to him at the break and he said that he looks at the name and shame website all the time. So I went back to the hotel where I was staying and I pulled out [Renwick], that’s where I was staying, and there were 36 restaurants there in [Renwick]; that’s going back about 8 months now. There were 36 restaurants there that were listed including the one that I had eaten out at the night before, and it certainly didn’t give me… A lot of confidence.
Yeah. I hadn’t seen anything that would not make me eat there, but it certainly would be something that I believe the public has a right to know.
A lot of the time you can’t see what goes on behind the walls.
More than a lot. Gavin, I appreciate your time.
Can I just clarify one point? Just before the break you mentioned that it might be safer to eat in your own home.
Well if you are cooking the food yourself; I’m certainly happier with everything that we make at home yeah, but I have a couple of restaurants that I love. Yeah go on.
But according to the Food Safety Information Council there’s about 5.3 million people that get food poisoning every year in Australia and about ¼ of that is quantified back to people preparing food in their own homes.
Is this because they are using poor ingredients or is it because they’re eating stuff that’s long past when they should have used it because they’re leaving things in the fridge for too long; like seconds and sort of leftovers and what have you?
Well it could be leftovers and things that have been left in the fridge, it could be you know a domestic fridge if it’s overloaded it might not be running at the right temperature or drawers being opened frequently but…
It’s a good point actually Gavin, you sort of pack everything you can into your refrigerator but if you do that it doesn’t actually work very well.
Well that’s right, and with having a young family myself things like changing nappies, if people don’t go and wash their hands after changing nappies and then go and prepare sandwiches or prepare food or salad or something for their kids then it could easily be that they’re making their own kids sick as opposed to or something they’ve picked up at school or something like that.
Taste sensations you’re not looking for. Thanks for your time Gavin.
That’s a good point there in closing about what happens in your own home too; especially when people leave stuff in the fridge for too long. “How long has this been here?”
Let me tell you, if there’s any question about how long something’s been in the fridge, just don’t risk it.