Target in the shitter.

The Herald reports on the false Target test that is looking like ruining a very good cafe in Ponsonby.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10581183

The owners of a Ponsonby cafe falsely accused by TV3′s Target show of serving contaminated food say the blunder has left them on the brink of bankruptcy.

The June 16 edition of the consumer show featured a hidden camera segment assessing the hygiene standards of eight Auckland cafes, and claimed chicken from Cafe Cezanne contained high levels of faecal coliforms.

This week TV3 released a statement on behalf of production company Top Shelf Productions admitting food samples from the cafes were incorrectly coded and they were unable to confirm which one had produced the contaminated food.

The statement said the employee in charge of labelling the samples had been sacked.

Releasing a statement, and sacking someone is simply not good enough. TV3 need to give the mistake at least twice the amount of airtime they gave to making the false accusation, and furthermore sacking someone is not the solution to the problem, it is the process that is at fault here.

Cafe Cezanne owners Rod Williams and Jackie Wilkinson said the “unbelievable” mistake had ruined their once-thriving business and they had taken legal advice on their next step.

“If it carries on this way we are going to go bankrupt,” Williams said.

“Our meals are quite reasonably priced and we go for volume in our cafe, but things have been so much quieter.

“We are pretty disappointed and our staff are very upset by everything.”

The cafe received an A grade rating during a food and safety inspection by the Auckland City Council last month.

I have been to Cezanne many times over the years, and it is one of the best cafes in Ponsonby. It is well known for its good priced food, and friendly atmosphere, and the fact that it got an A only a month ago suggests that Target stuffed up big time.

Both owners said the mistake was unforgivable and wanted to know more about how it had happened.

Wilkinson said they contacted Target before the show aired to say there was a mistake with the food sample.

“We knew there were a few errors in their facts but they went ahead anyway and we have noticed a serious downturn in clientele since then,” she said. “Then they come out with an apology but it’s too late. It’s shocking.

“We’re usually busy through the week, on weekends and in the evenings but now it’s really quiet.

“Sometimes we hear people walking past and saying ‘That was the dirty place on Target‘. It’s horrible.”

Okay this is where the shit really sticks to Target. Cezanne told them that it must be wrong, and coming back after the fact with a statement is no apology. It appears that Target is out to rack mud onto people deliberately, the show is no longer about consumer affairs but more about ruining people for the sake of entertainment.

Target executive producer Laurie Clarke said the mistake was “embarrassing” but was satisfied it was down to a single employee.

“We had followed basic procedure but fell down when it came to labelling the samples,” he said. “Of course it is embarrassing for us. We are a programme that critiques the performances of other industries so we have to maintain a high standard ourselves.”

Restaurant Association chief executive Alistair Rowe said the mistake was “irresponsible” and had destroyed the owners’ livelihood.

“It should have been obvious it was falsely contaminated food because it came back with a very high number for contamination – it was almost pure poo,” he said.

Anyone who has done any studies in Science will know that you test, test again, and test again until you get consistent and reasonable results. Surely if a result was almost pure poo it would raise alarm bells. How do we know Target has not been planting samples for the sake of good (or bad) tv?

“In my opinion Target deserves to get sued, and I will personally stand there in court and clap if they do.

“To get something like this wrong is just plain irresponsible.”

This issue is so many times worse than the issue with the Warehouse PJs from a few years ago, at least that test had some basis to it they just got the figures massively out of proportion. This is just outright defamation, and false accusations. Target owe Cezanne a lot more than an applogy, when the media can make or break companies the media must act with all due care to ensure that what it reports is the absolute truth. I hope the Cezanne win any legal battle, that Target do the right thing and broadcast a long and sustained apology and change their ways, and I hope the Broadcasting Standards Authority also takes steps to prevent this unnecessary destruction of a buisness happening again.

Update: here is the BSA report from last time: http://www.bsa.govt.nz/decisions/2007/2007-114.htm

And the media from last time: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10458951 and http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/11155

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