After two years of uncertainty and bureaucracy, Wawa Eatery in Tokoroa finally has an opening date. The battle was over an exposed beam running above the bar, which the South Waikato District Council deemed to be a food safety hazard.
Inspectors for the Council argues that dust would catch on the top of the beam, which could then fall into the drinks of patrons. However, this came after the Council granted initial consent for the project. Owner Lorraine Young argued that enclosing the bean would not be in keeping with the character of the site and requested that the Council use its discretion, as it had done when similar issues had arisen in the past, but they refused. However, now MPI has stepped in and the eatery will be open by the end of the year.
"It was an error on my part to go under the Food Hygiene Regulations, rather than the Food Act, but we were not to know,” said Young. “The council didn't really want to help me get over the line, they just said I should have had a good consultant. The council's stance under the Food Hygiene Regulations was right but all over New Zealand they have been using discretion. They could have been more lenient but they choose not to and held this back for two years.”
The beam is now acceptable, provided it is painted in food-grade paint and staff follow a strict cleaning regime.