Ushij Matzer (59), owner of the first and oldest organic shop in Austria, also cooks daily meals for 70 children who attend local kindergartens.
She and her husband Rupert opened their shop in 1979. She has said that she only cooks lacto-vegetarian food (including dairy but no eggs), which contains less potentially harmful bacteria.
She also said that it was wrong that the Graz health department had classified her business as having a large kitchen, as it is only a two-person operation.
She added that a fine of €550 was ridiculous, as she only makes €1,400 a month.
According to EU health legislation she should be using plastic utensils, as they are easier to clean and disinfect. However, Matzer refuses to use plastics as she believes they cause health problems. “I can’t serve the children food which might contain traces of plastic,” she told the Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
Josef Herk, the president of the Styrian Chamber of Commerce, said that local businesses increasingly face bureaucratic problems and that “with all due respect for health and safety… I would willingly spend two days with Mrs Matzer in prison, perhaps we could even have a live broadcast, as a symbolic gesture”.
She has been dubbed by newspapers as the "cooking spoon rebel".