Mount Gambier business owner voices food hygiene concerns over SA’s BYO container laws

A Mount Gambier business owner is concerned about new South Australian laws that will allow customers to use their own containers when purchasing food from cafes and supermarkets.

Owner of 25acres Pizza Pasta Cafe Vincent Vinci said the new laws would remove public liability from businesses that use BYO containers, but there was still a risk customers would use social media to tarnish a business’s reputation if something went wrong.

“If a customer brought in their own containers and even if the government says there’s no liability, if [someone] were to get sick the customer is going to blame the business, “Mr Vinci said.

“Even if the law says there is no liability, people go putting stuff on the internet saying … ‘I got sick, I know my container was clean … their cream was off’, or whatever.

“We don’t really know what the problem is. We don’t know whether the kids have been playing with the container in the car or playing in the dirt and then touching the container.”

While he understood the environmental benefits associated with the legislation, Mr Vinci said he would prefer to explore alternatives such as using more environmentally friendly materials.

“I think there’s got to be better ways.

Welcomed change

Despite his concerns, associations representing the food industry have welcomed the change.

Restaurant and Catering Industry Association chief executive Belinda Clarke said she supported the legislation because it encouraged waste reduction without any associated costs to small businesses.

“Too often, government initiatives for sustainability measures rely on increasing red tape on small businesses that are already struggling with a skills shortage crisis and continuous waves of COVID-19,” she said.

Associations representing the food industry have welcomed changes that allow customers to use their own containers.(ABC Southe East SA: Leon Georgiou)

Australian Hotels Association (AHA) general manager Ian Horne also praised the new laws and said the changes were ultimately a case of government reflecting the desires of the community.

“I think there will be a natural progression, as technology keeps [improving] … And I think generally speaking it’s accepted as an inevitability in the broader hospitality industry, “he said.

“I’m sure a number of operators will be concerned if someone does get sick after they’ve brought some food home or some drink home in their own containers, irrespective of who’s responsible.

Mr Horne acknowledged Mr Vinci’s concerns that businesses would give up some level of control over container hygiene and conceded there was a potential for negative comments on social media.

But he said the AHA would ultimately be advising members that the new legislation was optional and provided benefits both in terms of legal protections and environmental benefits.

“The legislation, as I understand it, is done with goodwill,” he said.

“Only time will tell whether it actually has been a benefit or created further hurdles for small and medium family based businesses.”

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