Whenever I read of eateries being fined for cockroaches on the premises I do so with a mix of horror and puzzlement. Some accounts are more horrific than others, and I remember the evidence of a Newcastle food inspector that cockroaches in a suburban bakery were running up her legs! In The Herald yesterday I read of a couple of Lower Hunter eateries that have just made the NSW Food Authority's "name and shame" file for cockies, and there's no doubt that the damage to the businesses as a result of the exposure is serious.
We have a fear of cockroaches, yet we know that the odd one or two will inevitably turn up in our home. We can keep even them at bay if we drench our homes with powerful poisons, which we don't want to do, of course. A cockroach in a restaurant, however, is shocking, even if a single cockroach is very unlikely to incur a fine and shaming. But I don't think we'd like the remedy - we don't use it at home.
That is to saturate the restaurant's food-storage areas, its kitchen and its dining areas with the most powerful pesticides on the market. In fact, it's likely that the most powerful poisons available in Australia are so toxic to people that they've been banned in Europe and the United States. I've never heard of a restaurant being fined or shamed or even admonished for using too much poison or too powerful a poison. Indeed, the only checking of a restaurant's use of poisons is for the absence of cockroaches.
Cockies can destroy a restaurant, sending the restaurateur broke and his family into the street. More and stronger poison is the most effective insurance against cockroaches and disaster.
We are horrified by a few cockroaches scuttling about a restaurant kitchen and dining room, just as they do from time to time in our home, yet we are happy to eat food from a kitchen drenched in poisons, to eat from crockery that may be exposed to pesticide sprays and smoke bombs daily. Are our priorities distorted?