Queensland's 'fanciest food court' infested with cockroaches

A food court in a luxury Queensland shopping centre was so infested with cockroaches it was forced to hire specialist fumigators - and three individual outlets have been whacked with big fines.

The case involving three fast food outlets at Queens Plaza - home to the likes of Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton - has also sparked speculation the state's food safety regulations should be overhauled.

Boost Juice, Mad Mex and Noodle Time were this week individually sentenced in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and fined a combined total of more than $50,000 for food safety breaches after cockroaches were found in their businesses in February last year.

B-Juice Queens Plaza, which previously operated Boost Juice Queens Plaza under a licence agreement, was fined $16,000 on Tuesday with owner Francesco Antonio Cortese not individually prosecuted.

Boost Juice, Mad Mex and Noodle Time outlets, operating out of the Queens Plaza food court, are facing big fines.
Boost Juice, Mad Mex and Noodle Time outlets, operating out of the Queens Plaza food court, are facing big fines.

On Thursday the Queens Plaza Noodle Time was fined $18,000 and owner Jianbin Zhang fined $1000 while nearby Mexican restaurant Mad Mex was fined $10,000 and owner Clovis Chester Young also ordered to pay $10,000.

On Tuesday, Magistrate Belinda Merrin said health and food regulations were crucial for the safety of society.

"Food for sale should be safe and suitable for human consumption," she said.

"When these breaches occur, it is of course a risk to the health and wellbeing for members of the public."

Questions were raised in court on Thursday about whether pest fumigation responsibility should lie in the hands of the businesses or the landlord.

Francesco Antonio Cortese.
Francesco Antonio Cortese.

Magistrate Walter Ehrich discussed the potential for landlords to take control of the pest control process.

"It just seems to be there's been a problem with the whole of that food centre there," Mr Ehrich said.

"One person should be doing the whole thing, not individual people doing it because if someone doesn't do it properly, cockies (cockroaches) are going to escape from one shop to the next."

Brisbane City Council prosecutor Kevin Cartledge said the Food Act placed the responsibility for pest control on the individual businesses.

"But I think where the Food Act probably needs to be improved - and this is obviously a matter for the state - is to impose responsibilities on the land lord," he said.

"I'm sure there is some pest control that the landlord carries out, but it's clearly not adequate."

A Queens Plaza spokeswoman told The Courier- Mail the shopping complex has a comprehensive pest control management program in place to ensure the safety of customers, retailers and the wider community.

"Following the 2018 investigation we worked immediately with the affected retailers and relevant authorities to have the issue rectified, including engaging specialists to undertake an intensive clean treatment of affected tenancies," the spokeswoman said.

"Since February 2018 we understand Brisbane City Council has continued to conduct spot checks in the food court at Queens Plaza and there have been no issues identified in over year."