The owner of Launceston restaurants Hari's Curry and AAJ India pleaded guilty to storing and handling "decomposed and putrid" food in his Charles Street establishment.
Karanvir Singh, as the owner and director of Bains Food Pty Ltd, appeared in the Launceston Magistrates Court on Monday to answer 11 food handling complaints brought by the City of Launceston council.
They were one count of handling of unsuitable food, one count of sale of unsuitable food and nine counts relating to compliance with the Food Standards Code.
City of Launceston council's lawyer, Glynn Williams, told the court a routine inspection was conducted of AAJ India at 146-148 Charles St Launceston by council staff on January 15, 2019.
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Mr Singh was not at the restaurant when the inspection was conducted, but front of house and kitchen staff and the cook in charge were there, Mr Williams said.
A City of Launceston Environmental Health officer spoke with staff at AAJ India about food handling, asking "when were the curries made?" during the inspection about 5.30pm, the court heard.
Mr Williams said staff responses "raised concerns about food handling" for the officer, in particular "direct contact" between cooked and raw food.
Staff at the Charles Street restaurant were advised to cease food handling until further inspection and a senior officer was called about 6.15pm, the court heard.
Both officers asked for the owner to be present for further inspection, but they were told Mr Singh was overseas, Mr Williams said.
They then inspected the kitchen with the cook in charge and staff voluntarily closed the restaurant.
The Environmental Health officers took notes and photos on what they found in the kitchen, freezer and cool room, Mr Williams said.
After conducting a more thorough inspection, council officers "seized and disposed of food that was decomposing and putrid" and deemed of "unsafe or potentially unsafe" quality about 7.50pm, Mr Williams said.
The officers also took four samples of food for analysis, with the remainder of the seized food, weighing around 160 kilograms, taken to Launceston Waste Transfer for disposal.
Council staff called Mr Singh in India and advised him of their actions.
Mr Singh received a prohibition order to suspend operations and a notice of intent to cancel his food business registration on January 16, the court heard.
When Mr Singh returned to Tasmania, council staff cautioned him on food handling issues, including "temperature abuse", or "cooling food without protection from contamination", Mr Williams said.
Another inspection was conducted on January 20 and council officers found a "mouldy" naan bread applicator, the court heard.
More food samples were taken during this inspection, with a further 56 kilograms of food seized for disposal, Mr Williams said.
After meeting with Mr Singh on further occasions during January and February and requesting food handling training, City of Launceston officers varied his food handling licence.
Mr Williams said there had been no similar food handling cases under the Food Act in Tasmania.
He said despite Mr Singh entering a plea "at the first practicable opportunity" and that nobody "appeared to have been made ill", the risks were "really very serious in nature".
Magistrate Simon Brown adjourned the case to consider the facts.
Mr Singh will be sentenced for the 11 food handling offences at Launceston Magistrates Court on July 22.
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