THE other day I was thirsty, having walked for an hour in the boiling sun.
I pulled up at a gorgeous little cafe that promised freshly squeezed juices. It was just what my heart desired.
It was a quiet day so the owner was in the street having a conversation with friends and smoking a cigarette. Someone gave him money which he put in his pocket. He shook hands with another man; and while I waited at the counter he was picking up food and tissues from a table before he served me.
When I looked up from the newspaper on the bench, I saw him making the juice with the same filthy hands he had performed all those activities with — and I shudder to think what else. He was handling the fruit and putting it in the blender. I was almost sick but, having paid and being too hot and
bothered to argue, I just took the juice and threw it out.
Another day I was relieved to find the butcher had put on gloves to put the chicken for my daughter’s dinner in a plastic bag. I paid him, but he took the money with the same gloves on, opened the cash register, handed me change and went back to serving other customers.
It’s disgusting, what goes on with regards to personal hygiene in our stores. So bad in fact that my former doctor told me that she’s had hepatitis A and B shots, not for travelling to the Third World but for life in Australia due to the ailments she’s seen occur from bad food practices.
There are strict regulations about how raw food should be handled to avoid salmonella and other contaminants, and even guidelines about how and when to wear rubber gloves. Yet in the past week I’ve seen four separate examples of appalling hygiene, including flies in the juicer. Where are our regulators? They should be scouting shops that sell raw food, such as juice bars, fish shops and butchers, to see if adequate hygiene is being maintained.
I’m not a fast food or chain store fan. But I’ve never been into a Boost Juice where there aren’t good hygiene procedures in place: containers seem clean and regularly washed, gloves or tongs are used. The franchises are carefully monitored, as are most franchised brands such as Subway.
We know small businesses such as cafes and butchers are struggling against rising costs and the global domination of chain food stores. We, your customers, want to support local business, but not if you are dirty. Your competitors are closing in, and the internet allows us to voice our complaints.
It’s time for uncouth practitioners to clean up their act.