A supplier of hotel food supplies is being hit with a $7.5 million fine by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over a nationwide food safety scare.
Key points:The ACCC alleges that a supplier of food products that had been sold on the internet, had been contaminated with a deadly fungus, contaminated hotel plates and sold for $12.25 each.
It’s alleged that the supplier, who is based in New South Wales, was selling contaminated food and plates to hotels, restaurants and cafes.
The ACCCs investigation found the supplier was selling to hotels and restaurants through a website called Hotel Food Supply Australia and was offering the plates for $5 each.
The company was also allegedly selling the contaminated food to hotel restaurants and hotels in the NSW and ACT.
The penalty was announced by ACCC chairman Rod Sims in a statement on Friday.
It was initially assessed as $4 million but was reduced to $3.5million on appeal.
“The ACC is pleased to announce that our investigation has concluded with the supplier of these products, Hotel Food Supplier, receiving a $4.5m fine for the offences of knowingly selling contaminated products to hotels in NSW and the ACT,” the ACCC said.
“It is the ACC’s view that the company should have been aware of the potential risks associated with the products they were selling.”
In this case, the company was in breach of its obligations to consumers and suppliers, which we have found to be at least in part, based on a review of their marketing and compliance processes.”‘
No fault or negligence’It is alleged that Hotel Food supplies hotels and other businesses with contaminated food, including hotels’ plates and plates of other foods.”
We are satisfied that the supply of these plates to these establishments is not a reasonable expectation of fair compensation,” the company said in a written statement.”
While the ACCs investigation found that the product supplied was contaminated with deadly fungus causing a serious and potentially life-threatening foodborne illness, there is no fault or failure of care by the supplier.
“Hotel food is a critical part of the Australian hospitality sector, and Hotel Food is proud to have provided these services to our guests for years.”
Mr Sims said the company had taken immediate steps to address the issue.
“This was a matter of concern for us and we took immediate action to investigate this matter and, following an exhaustive review, we are satisfied with the actions taken to prevent further incidents of this nature,” he said.
The fine follows a two-year investigation into Hotel Food, which uncovered evidence that the food was being sold in breach the Food Safety and Standards Act, the Food Standards Code and the Australian Consumer Law.
The ABC contacted the company for comment, but it did not respond.
The regulator said it will not comment on pending investigations, but urged people to contact their local Health Department for advice about eating with their plates.