April 11, 2009 11:30pm
IS this the filthiest fast-food joint in Australia? Countless discarded brown paper bags and burger wrappers lay strewn across the floor, piled up in trampled heaps around the tables and chairs.
Abandoned soft drinks, squashed chips and other rubbish cover the table tops as diners sit eating amidst the detritus.
Welcome to McDonald's on Hindley St. These pictures were taken in the dining area at 3am last Sunday by Adelaide law student Jeremy Brown while on a night out with friends.
After entering the premises for a snack, the 22-year-old Hawthorndene resident said he was so disgusted by what he saw that he decided to film it on his mobile phone.
"I went in there and we were all aghast how grotty it was, and I thought I'd capture it on film because people wouldn't believe how messy it was," he said.
The video has since been posted on the internet site YouTube, attracting a worldwide audience.
Mr Brown said McDonald's employees had told him that the filthy area was a regular occurrence.
But he was reluctant to blame staff, who he said appeared to be working "flat out".
"I think it was short-staffed, there were big queues to get food," he said.
"I spoke to someone at the counter, and she said it was often like that."
The appalling state of the restaurant, which is in the heart of Adelaide's entertainment strip, has shocked MPs and union officials.
Peter Malinauskas, secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, said it was the sort of dining and working environment "one might expect to see in a Third World city, not McDonald's on Hindley St".
"It's appalling that customers would leave their rubbish like this in the first place," he said.
Independent MP Bob Such, who has long campaigned for improved hygiene standards in restaurants and food outlets, said he expected better of McDonald's.
"It's not very nice is it? It's a safety hazard as well as a food hazard. People could easily trip over that stuff," he said. "One would have thought a big franchise like that would insist on high standards."
Tony Tropeano, of the Hindley St Late Night Traders Group, called for more council inspections.
"It's a complete disgrace, particularly when dealing with food," he said.
"The authorities should get down off their high horse and see this at street level."
Adelaide City Council, which is responsible for inspecting city restaurants, said although it had previously received complaints about the restaurant, it had found "no issues" in past inspections.
Council spokeswoman Natalie Di Fava refused to give details about those complaints.
McDonald's SA market manager Josie Mangini said the store's management had been "counselled" over the mess.
"The state of the dining room was completely unacceptable," she said.
"McDonald's prides itself on high standards of cleanliness.
"We have spoken to the crew and the managers, and they have been counselled to maintain the utmost standards. It was completely disappointing."
Ms Mangini said two cleaning procedures were not followed, involving a clean "travel path" through the restaurant and when crew clean all of the tables. "A lot of things weren't going right that night," she said.
When the Sunday Mail visited the restaurant in the early hours of Friday morning, staff members were clearing tables every 10 minutes.
One teenage diner, who asked not be named, said the restaurant appeared cleaner than normal.
"It's just the numbers of people who come in and out of here that make such a mess," she said.
The store manager, who would only give her name as Sandra, confirmed a complaint had been made last Saturday night but said she was unable to comment further.
According to the Food Act 2001, inadequately cleaned food premises can be fined up to $2500 on the spot.
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