One of Sydney’s best-known pubs has said only a kitchen mutiny or “sabotage” could be responsible for the alleged serving of poo-smeared icecream.
The Coogee Bay Hotel today welcomed the involvement of police and health authorities to try to determine how human excreta could have found its way into the dessert.
Sydney woman Jessica Whyte claims to have taken “violently ill” after eating a complimentary bowl of icecream at a hotel function on October 5.
Staff offered the dessert as a placatory gesture following an argument with her family about seating at the grand final lunch.
Whyte said she realised something was amiss when she brought a spoonful to her lips and “the stench went through my nostrils”.
“I retched and spat it out into the napkin,” she told News Ltd.
Independent testing of the substance allegedly showed it had “properties similar to human excreta”, the Whytes claim.
General manager Tony Williams today leapt to the hotel’s defence, saying the refurbished open-plan kitchen had been open for just three weeks, and conformed to the highest hygiene standards.
“We categorically stand behind the high quality of our food and hygiene standards in the new brasserie and kitchen,” Williams told reporters.
“Consequently, if indeed this allegation is proved to have occurred, we believe it must have been some form of sabotage.”
Williams said a detailed internal investigation was underway, and he welcomed health department and police involvement.
“It’s our wish to continue investigating this serious allegation with the end result of pursuing criminal charges,” he said.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald agreed a “hostile act” must have taken place.
“I can’t see, given the nature of the food business, how this could occur in any other way,” he told reporters.
“It would be pretty impossible to think about how this would be occurring without there being a deliberate act of treachery,” he said.
The Food Authority would be willing to investigate once a formal complaint from the Whytes had been lodged, the minister said.
Williams said the hotel had immediately stopped serving the icecream in question and quarantined it for independent experts to determine if there was “any further evidence of the contamination”.
“There was not,” he added.
Williams accused the Whytes of trying to blackmail the hotel into paying them $1 million in “hush money”.
He said they made off with the “material” and did not allow the hotel to retain “even a small sample for outside testing”.
“When I personally visited the Whytes and requested a sample for our testing this was also denied,” Williams said.
“There is now no objective means to establish where the (substance) came from.”
Since the alleged faeces incident, Mr Williams said, the kitchen had served in excess of 8,000 people.
The hotel recently re-opened its doors following a multi-million dollar revamp aimed at shaking its boozy backpackers image.
It currently ranks second in a police list of the 100 most violent pubs in NSW.