A bitter row has broken out between one of Sydney's largest tourist pubs and a family of five who accused chefs of serving human excrement in their gelato after they complained about noise during a football match.
State government food minister Ian Macdonald confirmed on Wednesday that frozen fecal matter had been found in a serving of chocolate gelato offered to placate pub patron Steve Whyte and his wife Jessica, who became "violently ill" after eating it.
"The stench went through my nostrils, I retched and spat it into the napkin," Jessica Whyte told the Daily Telegraph newspaper, recounting what local media are calling "gelati-gate."
The tainted sweet was allegedly served up at the Coogee Bay Hotel, one of Sydney's largest and most popular beachfront hotels, located just a few minutes south of Bondi Beach.
The pub has denied serving excrement to the Whyte's after they complained they were unable to hear a televised football game due to loud music, with both the chef and restaurant manager volunteering for DNA tests to prove their innocence.
Both sides have accused the other of money seeking, with the Whyte's claiming they were offered $5,000 in hush money by pub General Manager Tony Williams, while they in turn were accused of trying to negotiate up to $1 million in damages.
The argument over accusations of "kitchen revenge" has shocked Australians, leading into an expected searing, gelato-friendly summer, capturing national headlines for days.
Macdonald said DNA analysis would now be done to determine if the sample was of human or animal origin as police and food authorities investigate the case.
"Obviously, we are keeping an open mind and do not want to pre-empt this investigation in any manner," he said.
The eastern Sydney hotel is standing by staff and on Tuesday said its own lab tests on the chocolate gelato tub had found no evidence of contamination.