Offence in bad taste

Mouldy food costs a Medina supermarket $12,000.
Mouldy food costs a Medina supermarket $12,000.

Qin Lan Holdings Pty Ltd, trading as Medina IGA, pleaded guilty at Rockingham Magistrates Court on Tuesday to six counts of selling unsuitable and out-of-date food.

Prosecution for the City of Kwinana said a City environmental health officer received a call from a member of the public on July 15, 2014, about �visible mould growth� on some cauliflower at the store.

He said officers attended about 10.45am the same day and noted there was visible mould on food at the store.

Other items with mould growth included ginger, capsicum and snow peas.

�The customer had pointed out the problem to the store manager earlier that day,� he said.

�The manager said the fresh produce manager had been away due to illness.�

The officers confiscated the food items and sent them away for testing.

�Microbiological testing revealed significant mould growth,� the prosecutor said.

�The City has had issues with Medina IGA over the last couple of years. On June 28, 2011, they had meat product past their use-by date.

�They also were convicted in 2012 and fined $7500 for labelling breaches for meat product.�

The prosecutor said other breaches had occurred on January 10, 2012, May 17, 2012, and February 2, 2013. They consisted of labelling breaches, selling deteriorated meat, not storing meat at 5C or below and cleanliness issues.

Defence lawyer Dara Singh said whoever was at the checkout would not let those items be sold.

Magistrate Stephen Wilson rejected that defence.

�It is the fact they shouldn�t have been there at all,� he said.

Mr Singh said it was mainly due to the fruit and vegetable manager�s absence.

�They do admit to not having an adequate back-up system in place. They have a better system in place now,� he said.

Mr Singh also said the label was a best before and not a use-by date.

He said the company provided a service to the community and there was a letter of support for the store from a local member of Parliament.

�It is a low-income area. It is not a big business and struggles to survive. Three businesses have closed already from competition from large conglomerates around the area,� he said.

The prosecutor again rejected part of the defence.

�The City�s position is that the social and economic situation of the area should not affect the quality of the food on the shelf,� he said.

In his sentencing remarks, Magistrate Wilson said the store faced a maximum fine of $1.5 million.

�It concerns me that there is a history of non-compliance. In relation to this matter, there have been serious breaches of standards; it is serious as it can create serious illness in people,� he said.

Magistrate Wilson took into account the company�s early guilty plea, but stated a need for personal and general deterrence.