A Melbourne catering company shut down during a listeriosis scare linked to the death of an elderly hospital patient plans to sue the state government over the forced closure.
I Cook Foods in Dandenong South was forced to cease operating in February after meals it provided to a private hospital in Melbourne’s east were suspected of being contaminated with listeriosis and contributed to the death of an 80-year-old woman.
On Thursday, the company was allowed to reopen its doors, just two days after it launched legal action arguing the closure was premature and unjust.
Company owner Ian Cook on Friday said the company, employing 41 staff, will seek compensation for the closure.
“We’ve been completely wronged,” he told ABC radio.
“We’ve had contracts cancelled because we’ve been made to look like we killed someone, and we didn’t do that. We just didn’t do that.”
Mr Cook said the health department’s own testing showed its food items satisfied Australian food standards.
The sandwich in question is considered a high-risk food item not recommended for vulnerable people such as the elderly or pregnant women, he said.
“The hospital should never have given a high-risk food to a very sick woman,” Mr Cook added.
In February, Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said he acted out of an “abundance of caution” to close the kitchen while investigations continued.
He said six positive samples for listeriosis had been found in the firm’s kitchen.
On Thursday, Dr Sutton revoked the order against I Cook Foods and said he was satisfied changes had been made to food handling processes.
Mr Cook is also critical of how the department managed the reopening process.
“They’ve put a number of conditions on the reopening, a number of which are, if you like, ludicrous,” he said.
“They have a testing regime which actually means, if I follow it, I end up selling food out of date. The whole thing smacks of trying to cover tracks.”