GREATER Dandenong Council has given a clean bill of health to a fruit-and-veg business after its store in Fountain Gate was accused of “appalling” food safety and hygiene standards by an ex-manager.
A & S Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables, which also has stores in Parkmore and Dandenong Plaza shopping centres, was targeted on Facebook by its former Fountain Gate employee Michael Storer.
The post prompted Greater Dandenong Council to inspect A & S Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables stores in its area.
Mr Storer tagged his post on 5 October with graphic photos of vermin and cockroaches among fruit and vegetables, claiming they were taken at the store’s Fountain Gate premises.
The post went viral, being shared more than 27,000 times in less than two days.
Mr Storer said he then took the post down because he was being overwhelmed by messages.
In its own Facebook post on 6 October, A & S Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables defended its standards in an open letter to Mr Storer.
“The reason we hired you (and will continue to hire others like you) is because we take our produce quality, staff safety, training and food handling seriously,” the A & S Wholesale post stated.
“We want to assure our customers that our produce is stored and rotated appropriately on a daily basis to ensure that all food is fresh, clean and handled effectively.
“We have strict cleaning and hygiene policies in place that we continue to work on and improve.
“Extensive pest control is also in place at all of our stores to prevent and eliminate issues of this type if and when they arise.”
Company spokeswoman Sophie Broomfield said Mr Storer’s posted photos were identifiably taken in a shared rubbish area at Fountain Gate.
But Mr Storer stood by his claims last Thursday. “I can guarantee they weren’t taken in the rubbish area.”
Mr Storer claimed he had been employed to “change the culture and fix standards” within the store but was unable to implement change.
He said he posted the claims out of “conscience” and that it was right to notify families who were shopping at the store.
“If the post has (changed the store’s practices) I’m happy I did it.
“I’ve had current and past employees message me, saying they would back me.”
Greater Dandenong regulatory services manager Peter Shelton said “no matters of concern” were found during inspections of the two A&S stores in the municipality last week.
“A&S stores will be inspected as frequently as necessary to manage the level of risk they actually present to public health.”
He confirmed the Dandenong Plaza store was issued a clean-up notice by the council in 2013.
Ms Broomfield said legal action against Mr Storer was being considered.
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