For two years, Udo Boschan thoroughly denied he had breached food hygiene standards at his Unanderra bakery, which supplied ready-to-eat desserts to Illawarra Retirement Trust nursing homes.
On Monday, he admitted that had been a lie.
The former director of now-defunct Betta Maid bakery confessed in court to four counts of failing to comply with the food standards code.
The charges were laid after a rare strain of salmonella was found in food prepared by the bakery and delivered to IRT homes in February 2015, causing widespread food poisoning among residents.
Up to 30 people fell ill after eating contaminated chocolate eclairs, apple strudels and chocolate slices in mid-February 2015. Two elderly residents died.
An investigation by the NSW Food Authority found rusty, dirty equipment was being used to prepare the food in an environment that contained “moderate to extreme” levels of rodent and cockroach activity.
Betta Maid was shut down twice in two months before being given the all-clear to reopen in early April.
Boschan subsequently announced he would close the business doors for good and the company was placed into liquidation.
However, food authority investigators continued their legal action, culminating in Boschan and the business being charged with a combined 15 offences under the NSW Food Act 2003.
Betta Maid pleaded guilty to 10 charges in May last year and was fined $63,000.
(It is unlikely to be paid however, with company records shows the business was $144,000 in the red at the time the offences occurred.)
Boschan pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
He had been set to begin a three-day hearing on Monday morning when he agreed to a plea bargain with prosecutors, which required him to confess to the failing to comply charges if a further charge of handling food in a manner likely to render it unsafe was dropped.
Court documents said Boschan, as the director and general manager of the business, “attended the premises, supervised its operations, held staff meetings and had overall responsibility for the food safety program and quality of the products manufactured by Betta Maid”.
As part of their case, prosecutors tendered dozens of photographs investigators had taken at the facility on February 16 as evidence of the dirty conditions.
Boschan did not comment as he left the courthouse with family and friends after Monday’s proceedings.
He will return to court on Friday for sentencing.