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Restaurant fined for poisoning diner

Top One Chinese Restaurant, at Australia Fair, Southport has been fined $25,000 for failing to comply with food safety laws after toxic chemicals were mistakenly put into a salt shaker.

As a result of the mishap, a diner sustained acid burns in his mouth.

Xiaoxue, aka “Sophia”, Sun pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court to selling unsafe food last year.

And the company behind the business, Huaxia International Pty Ltd, was found guilty of failing to ensure a company complies with the food safety laws.

Sun is the company’s executive officer.

According to the court documents, the man had gone to the restaurant for lunch with his family. He had requested salt as the shaker on the table was empty.

When a new container was brought by a waitress, the diner put it on his meal.

He then experienced severe pain, and began bleeding at the mouth.

He was treated by ambulance officers at the restaurant.

While blistering to his lips, he was not taken to hospital. According to the court documents, his daughter said the meal smelled like it had something “toxic”.

The documents show Environmental Health officers who attended the restaurant later found the problem - a number of “unlabelled containers” of white substances, including a 10kg tub of caustic soda in a cupboard at the restaurant. Testing the shaker given to them by the customer’s daughter, they found it contained sodium hydroxide.

This is commonly known as caustic soda.

The company was fined $20,000 for selling unsafe food and ordered to pay court costs of $515.90 and $15,000 in legal costs while Sun, who was self-represented, was fined $5000 for failing to ensure the company that owns Top One Chinese complied with food safety legislation.

Terry Moore, from the Gold Coast Public Health Unit, said the court action sent a message to the industry.

“Poisons such as a caustic soda should be appropriately labelled and stored safely. Staff must also be trained in the safe use and storage of poisons,” Moore told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“We took this matter to court because Gold Coasters have a right to enjoy a safe meal out.”

by Leon Gettler,November 14th 2017