Caterer’s hefty fine over kitchen find

A COMPANY that has catered for the Commonwealth Games, Queensland Racing and Stadium Queensland has been fined $20,000 over rat droppings in a Brisbane college cafeteria.

Brisbane City Council inspectors last year found a large number of rat droppings throughout the Eagle Farm TAFE's cafeteria kitchen, run by All Crowd Catering.

The 30-year-old company and its chief executive officer, Russell Cronk, pleaded guilty to a total of 24 charges brought by Brisbane City Council.

The company, which claims to be Queensland's largest special events catering supplier, was fined $20,000 and Mr Cronk was fined $2000 for Food Act and licensing breaches.

All Crowd Catering chief executive, Russell Cronk, right, leaves Brisbane Magistrates Court with his barrister. Picture: John Gass/AAP
All Crowd Catering chief executive, Russell Cronk, right, leaves Brisbane Magistrates Court with his barrister. Picture: John Gass/AAP

Brisbane City Council solicitor Roman Macairan said photos taken in June last year showed an accumulation of food, chips, paper and grease under a deep fryer in the kitchen.

Mr Macairan said this provided a perfect food source for vermin and people using the cafeteria were put at risk of consuming potentially contaminated food.

An open bag of flour was found in the storeroom behind the main kitchen of the Eagle Farm cafeteria, on a shelf where there were rodent faeces, Brisbane Magistrates Court heard.

"That's worrying,'' Mr Macairan said.

"It shows rats have found this particular food source and have been close enough to not only deposit their faeces but potentially rummage around in that food,'' Mr Macairan said.

He said rat faeces were on a shelf in an area frequented by employees who should have cleaned it up straight away.

A large number of rat droppings were also found under a deep freezer.

Mr Macairan said a pest inspection only six weeks earlier had found rodent activity at bait stations.

The court heard Mr Cronk, whose company provided food but not maintenance of the premises, had been unaware of the pest report or rodent droppings until the council inspection.

The cafeteria had been brought up to standard within 24 hours of the Council inspection, so that a licence suspension was lifted, the court heard.

Mr Cronk's barrister said he did not shy away from his responsibility to ensure food was dealt with safely and there was no presence of rodents.

All Crowd Catering, which currently has four food outlets at a Brisbane caravan and camping show, had no previous Food Act breaches.

Magistrate Tina Privitera accepted that the company and Mr Cronk had an otherwise exemplary record, with catering contracts for events such as the Commonwealth Games.

She did not record convictions, but ordered the company and Mr Cronk to pay the council's professional and court costs.