The former owner of a Canberra restaurant has been 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.

As reported by The Canberra Times, Proprietor Ben Thankum was subsequently changed with a series of food safety breaches including failing to ensure clean surfaces, letting contaminated material spread in the kitchen and poor storage procedures. Court documents also revealed that food was stored in washing-up areas and that sauces were left unrefrigerated for up to eight hours at a time.

Thankum told the court that he was unable to maintain a high level of cleanliness in the restaurant because he need to look after his sick wife.

Thankum was fined$2,000 for each food safety violation and ordered to pay court costs. 

Earlier this year, another Canberra restaurant, Kingland vegetarian restaurant was fined $16,000 over food safety breaches including the presence of dead and live cockroaches.

Twelve breaches of the food act were recorded in April 2013 when health inspectors visited the venue following a tip-off from a member of the public.

The breaches included a cockroach infestation, dirty food preparation areas and equipment, incorrect storage of food, and faulty hand washing facilities. Owner of the venue, Khanh Hoang, told the Health Protection Service in June 2013 that he had been aware of the cockroach infestation but did not engage in pest control services as it involved “killing little insects”.

Magistrate Maria Doogan charged Hoang with eight violations of the food act, resulting in a total fine of $16,000.

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