Tartufo is one of Brisbane’s classier restaurants.
Tartufo is one of Brisbane’s classier restaurants.

Cockroaches found in top restaurant kitchen

ONE of Brisbane's swankiest Italian restaurants has been fined more than $15,000 for having grease and grime on the floor and cockroaches in its kitchen.

Tartufo in Fortitude Valley, which reached number 24 in Queensland's Delicious 100 in 2017, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of failing to comply with food safety laws in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Brisbane City Council health inspectors, who visited the restaurant in June 2017, found the premises was not to "a standard of cleanliness where there was no accumulation of food waste, grease, dirt or other material".

 

The audit of the premises revealed there was "visible matter" on the floor under the refrigerator in the pasta area.

Inspectors found there was grease and grime behind the dishwater and on the floor near cooking equipment,live and dead cockroaches and cockroach excrement in the kitchen, including dead roaches inside the dishwasher and live ones on the wall of the dry food area.

The restaurant also failed to seal a gap in the kitchen door which "provided a potential entry point for pests into the premises".

Inspectors also told the court soap and paper towels were not available at the handbasin in the dining area of the restaurant when the audit was completed.

The restaurant was originally charged with more than 20 breaches but many were discontinued after a plea was entered to the 11 charges.

They were fined $15,000 for the breaches.

 

Restaurateur Tony Percuoco of Tartufo. Picture: David Kelly
Restaurateur Tony Percuoco of Tartufo. Picture: David Kelly

 

Restaurateur Tony Percuoco was also separately fined $2000 after pleading guilty to failing to ensure a corporation complies with the act.

Mr Percuoco told The Courier-Mail­ ­the prosecution came as a "shock" after more than four decades in the industry.

"There was a problem in the centre and we are right in the middle of it, but the Brisbane City Council was absolutely right and I'm not making excuses," he said.

"The shock was immense. Never in my life has this ever happened to me.

"It's more embarrassing than anything else because I've been a long time in the industry.

"When we had the problem, we had the pest control coming every single month without fail and there must have been a problem with the pest control. For the past year we've been doing it every two weeks."

In sentencing, Magistrate Dean Wilkinson said the breaches were at the lower end and the restaurant had undertaken "swift action" to rectify the problems.

He took into consideration Mr Percuoco's "previous unblemished record in the food industry".

"It is also significant that these offences arose from an audit conducted under the Act, not from a complaint by a member of the public," the magistrate said.

"Mr Percuoco had put in place a program to maintain cleanliness and also taking into account the time he has spent in the industry, some 40 years without previous offences … these are factors that really speak for themselves … obviously, on this occasion, there has been an oversight."



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