A Sydney cake manufacturing business and its director have been convicted under the Food Act 2003 and fined a combined $48,000 plus $21,000 in professional costs in the Chief Industrial Magistrates Court.
Sunfield Australia produced and sold cakes containing nuts and eggs that were not declared on the label, resulting in a child suffering an allergic reaction. At the time of the incident the company was on notice for not declaring allergens in food products following earlier investigations by the New South Wales Food Authority.
The authority’s chief executive officer Polly Bennett said the result was particularly pleasing given the danger to health posed by allergic reactions.
“More than 160,000 people in NSW suffer a food allergy of some sort and statistics show one in 10 babies born in Australia today will develop a food allergy,” she said.
“Unfortunately,at the most serious end of the scale these allergies can prove fatal. Consumers rely upon the labels to provide accurate information about the foods they buy and consume.”
The NSW Food Authority acknowledged the importance of correct labelling procedures couldn’t be underestimated.
“For some people it can literally be a matter of life and death. The NSW Food Authority expects manufacturers to respect their customers, respect the law and meet their responsibilities,” the authority’s CEO said.
Sunfield Australia was convicted of nine offences, with its director convicted of seven offences including failure to comply with the Food Standards Code in the conduct of a food business and selling food that was labelled in a manner that contravened the code.
The court rejected submissions by the offenders that they did not realise the seriousness of their actions, given by August 2010, they were well aware of their obligations.
The company has been placed on the NSW Food Authority’s Name and Shame register.
The most common food allergens that occur in the Australian food industry are crustaceans, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, soybeans, tree nuts and sesame seeds. These allergens, as well as gluten and sulphites, are required by law to be declared on food labels.
The law requires food service businesses to provide accurate information when a customer asks about allergens in foods they are being served. Further information about food allergies can be found on the NSW Food Authority’s website: www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au.