Caterer in Vic court to overturn shutdown

Melissa Meehan

A Melbourne catering company at the centre of a listeriosis scare has launched legal action to overturn a Victorian government-imposed shutdown.

A magistrate on Tuesday was faced with a bid by I Cook Foods in Dandenong South, which argues the health department's decision last month to close the business was premature and unjust.

The move comes after meals the business 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.

"We are appealing the closure order because we say it is without any justification whatsoever," company lawyer David Brett told AAP on Tuesday.

"It was made prematurely and with no substantive evidence that have justification for the shutdown."

He said his clients would argue the department had not been acting appropriately by feeding the elderly woman one of their sandwiches in the first place.

"The DHHS guidelines say (the sandwiches) shouldn't be provided to people over 70," he said.

"And the levels of listeria were within the food safety levels - but withstanding that, they closed all four branches of my client's company."

Company owner Ian Cook said he would fight the closure in a bid to save his business.

"It's a decision that has cost 41 jobs," he said while holding back tears outside of court.

"Under Food Standards Australia everything we did was safe. Our processes were safe. We threw out $500,000 worth of safe food, why? I think they made a horrible error.

"We're going to take this on. We're going to fight for everyone, fight for them, fight for our reputation, fight for our name."

Following the closure in February, Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton said he acted out of an "abundance of caution" to close the kitchen, while the department investigated the woman's death.

He said six positive samples for listeriosis had been found in the firm's kitchen.

The matter is listed for a hearing in early May.