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Business owner convicted in landmark case

16 September 2005

Avondale food manufacturing business owner convicted in landmark case

The owner of a food manufacturing business has been convicted and fined $4,280 for operating after being instructed to close. This is the first time that Auckland City has prosecuted a business owner for operating after closure.

The District Court conviction and fine handed down to owner Praveena Lal (also known as Praveena Devi) relates to Stan’s Indian Sweets and Snacks Ltd, a business operating at 541 Rosebank Road in Avondale.

Council officers instructed Ms. Lal to close the business in January this year, after discovering the premises had been operating without a license. There were also significant hygiene issues. A further check found the business had continued to operate despite explicit instructions to cease trading.

“Auckland City will actively pursue and prosecute any business owner found to be operating an unlicensed premise to protect the health and safety of the public.

“Council believes the court has chosen to send a clear signal to owners that operating without a license or operating after being instructed to close is completely unacceptable and will not go unpunished,” says Chris Dee, Auckland City’s environmental health and licensing manager.

“Business owners must realise that a food or health licence certifying standards of public health and safety is as much a cost of operating a business as paying wages or purchasing stock. Owners who fail their social duty and refuse to pay their licence fees are in effect requiring Auckland City ratepayers to subsidise their costs.”

Comments made by District Court Judge Moore at the time of conviction further highlight the serious nature of the case.

“This is a singularly outrageous breach by someone who, on the evidence, was really fully aware of what they should and should not be doing,” he said. “The fine imposed on this occasion is likely to be considerably increased if she were tempted once again to break the regulations in this way, whether in the territory of the Auckland City Council or that of some other local authority.”

Any premises used for the manufacture, preparation or storage of food for sale must be registered with Auckland City including restaurants and cafes, bakeries, dairies, grocers, supermarkets. Food premises without a licence are not permitted to open or distribute to the public.

Owners who intend to operate as a wholesale outlet or food manufacturer also need to contact a Health Protection Officer at Auckland District Health Board (phone (09) 262 1855), who provide advice on labelling, ingredients and preservative requirements.

ENDS

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