Former Queensland restaurant owner believes he was “discriminated against” by food inspectors

30 November, 2015 by
Aoife Boothroyd

A former Queensland restaurant owner found guilty of numerous food safety breaches, including operating a venue with the presence of rat droppings and cockroaches, believes he was "discriminated against" by health inspectors.

Richard Ji, the former operator of Broadbeach restaurant, Mama Roma was issued with seven improvement notices and five fines over a four year period for various breaches of the Food Act. On 26 November, Ji was fined a further $38,000 in the Southport District Court after pleading guilty to a further two breaches.

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An inspection in January this year identified a number of violations including fish that had been incorrectly stored, rusty surface areas, mouldy silicon covers for pizza, live cockroaches in a cracked seal of a fridge and droppings throughout the restaurant.

Ji – who no longer owns the business – told the Herald Sun that he tried to comply with the requests of the council, however the inspectors always seemed to find "a different problem".

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“I’ve been badly discriminated against,” he said.

“Every time they came in they always found a different problem. I don’t know how the people before me passed the inspections because it was like that for many years. It was just too hard.”

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Magistrate Cathy-Ann McLennan said that she was “amazed” that only one customer had filed a complaint to council this year given the “dreadful circumstances” of the restaurant over the four year period that Ji was the owner.

“Nothing you’re saying to me today explains why on earth you couldn’t clean it,” McLennan told Ji in court.

 “…If there was a power I had to make sure you never owned a restaurant again, I would exercise that power. I would certainly be recommending to the council that you never be permitted in this region again to run a restaurant.”

Earlier this month, the former owner of a Canberra restaurant was ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines after his venue was found to be infested with cockroaches.

Lao Thai Kitchen – which has since been sold – was inspected by food safety officers in February 2014. The officers observed cockroach infested food tubs along with live and dead cockroaches on floors, walls and benches. The operator was fined $2,000 for each food safety violation and ordered to pay court costs.