PERTH’S largest kosher food outlet has been hit with a massive fine for hygiene and labelling offences.
Kosher Food Centre proprietor Bernard Bettane was convicted in the Perth Magistrates Court over the violations, after local council health inspectors visited the shop in September 2009 and July this year.
The $49,000 penalty is the highest handed out since new West Australian food regulations came into force last year.
City of Stirling health inspections found Kosher Food Centre’s machinery and labelling did not conform to new standards in the 2009 WA Food Act.
A municipal conviction notice sent to The AJN by the Stirling council office stated the Kosher Food Centre’s premises were “not in a clean and sanitary condition”, that the defendant “failed to keep the premises in a good state of repair”, and that some food was not labelled correctly.
Kosher Food Centre is now believed to be complying with the new standards.
In a media statement, Bettane said he and his staff “have always taken hygiene and cleanliness very seriously and will continue to do so”.
He said the labelling problem originated with suppliers. “The problem is that we rely on our suppliers to label the products they import correctly. Naturally, we have discussed this matter with them, but unfortunately we have some suppliers who are not fully cooperating, which means that we now must remove product lines from our store in order to avoid this happening again.”
He described the new food regulations as “unclear and confusing”.
“There is a lot of red tape that businesses need to negotiate in this area, but it is especially difficult – and costly – for small family-owned businesses like ours.”
The mini-supermarket, located adjacent to Perth Hebrew Congregation (PHC) in the suburb of Menora, comprises a butcher, bakery and deli that supplies the Jewish community, as well as local hotels and food shops.
PHC’s Rabbi Dovid Freilich, president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, said Kosher Food Centre has a current hechsher (certificate) from the Kashrut Authority of WA, but Bettane would be required to adhere strictly to regulations if he wanted to keep his kashrut certification.