Blacktown, Canterbury-Bankstown and Parramatta councils were home to the greatest number of NSW food safety law breaches in the past month.

From failing to prevent pests, leaving food open to contamination and neglecting to adequately clean and maintain equipment; a combination of bakeries, seafood stores and restaurants found themselves on the NSW Food Authority “Name and Shame” register, now in its ninth year.

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In the 30-day period, 22 businesses were the subject of 35 food safety offences in the three council areas.

A further 54 businesses were the subject of 82 offences in council areas including Mosman, Liverpool, Fairfield, Central Coast and Willoughby.

While the majority of the list included lesser known, independent operators, it also featured big name proprietors like Dominos Pizza in Mosman, Bakers Delight in Artarmon, and Gloria Jeans in Strathfield.

“Blacktown, Canterbury-Bankstown and Parramatta are some of the three biggest local government areas in NSW, with more than 4200 food business,” said Ben Lees, NSW Food Authority food regulation executive officer.

Mr Lees said differences in the level of enforcement action across NSW did not necessarily reflect different compliance standards at any given time, as councils scheduled inspections at different times of the year.

Cockroaches, rats and flies are the most common pests to attract attention from food inspectors, he said.

Last month a Sydney chicken producer was ordered to pay more than $40,000 in fines and professional costs, after it was found to be transporting chicken meat intended for sale on rusted and corroded trolleys and benches.

Inspectors prosecuted 12 charges after visiting Bill’s Chicken in Moorebank, where they found unclean equipment and utensils, staff change rooms without soap, and rubbish and cigarette butts on site.

It is one of the latest businesses to be prosecuted on the NSW Food Authority’s “Name and Shame” register.

Shu Yu Yun, trading as Bill’s Chicken, pleaded guilty to all 12 charges and was handed a total fine of $34,000 and an order to pay more than $6000 in professional costs for the offences.

“This was one of the worst cases we have seen. Poor handling of meat can cause people to become very sick,” said Mr Lees.

Chief executive officer of the NSW Food Authority Dr Lisa Szabo said food businesses were “obliged to keep their premises clean and properly maintained and ensure their food is safe and suitable for human consumption and comply with the standards in the NSW Food Act.”

The most common food safety breaches in the past financial year related to cleanliness of food premises (21 per cent), storage and temperature control (16 per cent), pest control (13 per cent), hygiene of food handlers (13 per cent) and cleanliness of fixtures, fittings and equipment (12 per cent).

At its peak in 2009/10, 3.4 per cent of food businesses appeared on the “Name and Shame” register. However In the past three years the figure has fallen to less than 2 per cent, with an average of 1567 penalties consistently issued each year.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the register gave consumers confidence and certainty when choosing where to dine.

“Just as consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the provenance of their food, they are also demanding to know that this food is being safely prepared and served,” he said.

NSW councils carry out more than 61,000 inspections at 40,000 retail food businesses each year.

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