Tag Archives: food

Restaurant Hall of Shame

Last week the New South Wales Food Authority began publishing details of penalty notices issued to food outlets around the state. Their media release included examples of the sorts of tasteful details included in the reports:

  • – KFC in Victoria Street, Taree fined $660 for having an accumulation of dirt and grease in the shop.
  • – A noodle takeaway in Teramby Road, Nelson Bay received two fines for $330 each for having a dirty shop.
  • – An outlet in Great Western Highway, Marrangaroo (Lithgow) fined $330 for not maintaining a required standard of cleanliness.
  • – A noodle shop in Salamander Bay fined $660 for having evidence of cockroach activity in the shop.

The data stretches back to November 2007 and consists to date of 1038 penalty notices. Data sets like these are a delight to data-miners like myself and so I plan to define a data-scraping tool along the lines of the one I developed to capture Grocery Choice data (speaking of which, it is probably time for an update on grocery prices on the Mule). In the meantime, I have my hands on details of 1000 of the 1038 and have conducted some intial exploration of the data.

First there is the suburb hall of shame. The table below shows the 15 worst suburbs ranked by number of penalty notices. The inner West Sydney suburb of Ashfield has the ignominious award of first place, with 33 penalty notices. These include a number of repeat offences, including five notices for the Eaton Chinese Restaurant for offences including storing food in the rear yard and failing to provide hand-washing facilities. See them all here (note that this search includes a few Summer Hill restuarants).

Having recently moved to Petersham, I was gratified to see that neither Petersham nor Leichhardt have yet blotted their copybooks burnt their toast*. The Mayor of Newtown should be pleased to see that Newtown has only one penalty notice for the Tandoori Grill.

Rank Suburb Penalty Notices
1 Ashfield 33
2 St Mary’s 31
3 Penrith 29
=4 Castle Hill 27
=4 Sydney 27
6 Auburn 18
=7 Burwood 17
=7 Randwick 17
=8 Chatswood 16
=8 Fairfield 16
=8 Katoomba 16
9 Kogarah 15
10 Brookvale 14
11 Taree 13
12 Baulkham Hills 12

It is also interesting to see the outlets that have incurred the most infringements. Domino’s Pizza has been served with 14 notices across Castle Hill, Five Dock, Katoomba, Merrylands, St Mary’s (five notices there!) and Ballina, while the Asian fast food outlet Hokka Hokka has received 11 notices across Brookvale, Castle Hill, Chatswood, North Sydney, Sydney and Warriewood. Other offenders, all with 8 notices, are Zisti & Co in Alexandria, Top Choice BBQ Restaurant in Burwood and Blue Sky Chinese Restaurant in Springwood.

This is a subject that the Mule will certainly have to revisit. In the meantime, I will leave you with the penalty notice for Zhen Zhen Van Loi Hot Bread in Ballina, which is the inspiration for the picture above:

A person must not sell food that is unsuitable – A loaf of bread sold contained a cockroach.

Photo credit: kronicred on flickr (Creative Commons)

* The choice of language is an attempt to appease commenters who hate clich├ęs.

Digging into GroceryCHOICE

Earlier this week, South Australian senator Nick Xenophon raised concerns that the Government’s FuelWatch scheme would lead to higher petrol prices and that small independent petrol retailers were likely to be disadvantaged by the scheme. So it looks likely that the FuelWatch legislation will fail to pass the senate and then fade into oblivion. I can’t say I’m too upset about this as I have been critical of the scheme. Furthermore, falling oil prices have led to a fall of around 20 cents/litre in petrol prices which takes much of the sting out of the issue.

So now I am free to turn my attention to another Australian Government initiative, GroceryCHOICE**. This scheme aims to “[help] consumers find the cheapest supermarket chain in their area without having to compare hundreds of prices”. Every month a survey is conducted of prices on around 500 different grocery items at over 600 supermarkets around the region. These prices are aggregated into “baskets” of goods in the following categories:
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Why I Always Buy the Same Sandwich

Until recently, I’d never given much thought to the fact that whenever I buy my lunch at the deli behind my office building, I always get the same sandwich (chicken, avocado, cheese, tomato and lettuce on multi-grain, in case you were wondering). Then I started reading Dan Ariely‘s book Predictably Irrational and realised that I’d been “self-herding”.

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