Infected berries show deficiency in labeling

By Leith van Onselen

The Patties frozen berry scandal, which has seen 14 Australians infected with hepatitis A, has shone a spotlight on imported food standards, as well as Australia’s food labeling laws.

The infected berries, which are thought to have come from China, have angered local growers, who claim that they are being placed at a competitive disadvantage by having to comply with stringent safety and environmental standards that do not apply overseas.

Problems around food safety are particularly pervasive in China, where up to 90% of groundwater is said to be polluted.

Readers might remember the scandal that occurred in March 2013, when 19,000 dead pigs were found in the Huangpu River, the main water source for Shanghai. The pigs were dumped by a nearby farm after a virus swept through the herd. Wikipedia also sites multiple cases of Chinese food being polluted by heavy chemicals and substitutes.

The dangers are compounded by weak country-of-origin labeling laws in Australia, which make Chinese food difficult to identify. For example, this time last year Interest.co.nz published a disturbing report on how China is using New Zealand as a back door to export potentially hazardous frozen foods into Australia:

The issue of Chinese vegetables getting around Australian regulations by coming through New Zealand has been around for a year or so but it seems nothing is being done to police or change it.

It works like this: Vegetables from China are sent to New Zealand where they are mixed with big name brands and sent on to Australia where they are sold to the unsuspecting consumer.

This is made possible by a loophole in our trade agreements with Australia and also that country’s unwillingness to adopt country of origin labeling. While it is not mandatory here either most companies at least pay homage to it…

Australian consumer advocate AUSBUY told interest.co.nz the practice was rife and there was nothing that could be done to stop it.

Lynne Wilkinson said any food product sourced from overseas did not have to be labeled as to where it was from…

Not only are the vegetables being sourced from China they are avoiding chemical residue testing by coming through the back door…

The worst chemical found was procymide in a winter vegetable product made in New Zealand from “local and imported products”…

“Pesticide residues in imported produce is a significant issue [in Australia] as there’s basically no gatekeeper”.

In the wake of the frozen berry scandal, Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has rejected a crackdown on food testing and labelling, instead claiming that it was the responsibility of business “not to poison their customers”:

“The last thing I want to do is put a whole lot of additional requirements on business that will make their life very, very difficult and will raise unreasonably prices to consumers because everything we do in this area has a cost.”

Abbott’s stance has inflamed Victorian Liberal MP, Sharman Stone, who last year fought to save SPC Ardmona from closing down. Ms Stone labelled the hepatitis A outbreak a “wake-up call” for Australia and demanded the Government implement strong action to stop future outbreaks, including transparent country-of-origin labeling and more stringent testing of food imports to meet national standards:

“This is a wake-up call for Australia. This involves fecal contamination from water or food grown in contaminated soil and water. Meanwhile Australian growers have to adhere to scrupulous regulations and inspections. We have an incredible double standard.”

Ms Stone is spot on. With Australia’s lax country-of-origin labeling laws, combined with inadequate testing, Australians have no way of knowing where our food is sourced from or that it is safe. The Government, therefore, needs to lift its game and tighten standards before more Australians get sick, and before more local food producers are unfairly driven out of business.

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Comments

  1. Even the Chinese wont eat their own berries. I’m sick of the lack of regulation in the industry. We need to boycott these companies for putting profits before human safety. We need to buy local and support our farmers. It’s quite common for Chinese to use human shit to fertilize their shitty produce (no pun intended)

      • Yep. More a case of NZ importing dodgy Chinese food and exporting to Australia, taking Aussie for fools.

        In fact even food labeled as from China is better because I would know at least these passed safely test because food from China are scrutinize a lot more than usual.

    • The power of the great Australian Duopoly, this time Coles/Woolies once again holding sway over that other great Australian Duopoly LAB/LNP…. donations anyone?

      • What does this have to do with Woolworth or Coles? This is a classic case of NZ company screwing Aussies by using cheaper overseas ingredients, but making if as if they are from NZ. I hold NZ 100% liable.

      • Those two companies control every aspect of the supply line, there wouldn’t be a single berry in their stores that they don’t have a solid idea of where it has been ultimately sourced from. They’ve also been major instigators in breaking down barriers to import food to achieve their “lower everyday prices” policies.

        Also, have you considered who are the major lobbyists behind the Govt trying to prevent labelling of country of origin foods – especially with the growth of their home brands foods…

      • The supermarket brands definitely. Not sure if they have as much control over products from another country.

  2. Abbott COMPLAINED we shouldn’t be hindering business ability to make a buck just to avoid being infected with dangerous viruses.

    Really??

    • You’re surprised?

      Abbott always puts the populace last.

      Edit: I’m liking Ms Stone the more I hear about her. Give her the leader’s chair.

      • “She is no leader, but probably should not have been left on the back bench. She too dangerous there.”

        She has too much of a spine to be anywhere near Abbott’s decision-making table.

    • Of course, Tony Abbott blocked the roll out of five star food rating. The Government’s reasoning for withdrawing the website was that it wants to carry out further cost-benefit analysis.
      In a 2005 Four Corners interview, then Howard government Health Minister Tony Abbott was asked what responsibility parents should take for childhood obesity. ‘No one is in charge of what goes into kids’ mouths except their parents. It is up to parents more than anyone to take this matter in hand’ was his answer.
      So who does Tony Abbott support, not a healthy Australia!


      • The Government’s reasoning for withdrawing the website was that it wants to carry out further cost-benefit analysis.

        I can do the government’s cost-benefit analysis in a couple of paragraphs:

        The intended outcome of such a scheme must be that consumers are better informed, and able to make sensible choices about the food they eat.

        It would also cost some money, probably a few million.

        Having dealt with the cost side, is anyone aware of any benefits?

    • This is another example of how Tony Abbott just doesn’t understand the concerns of middle Australia.

      Just like the knighthood fiasco, Tony didn’t understand that food safety might actually be really important to the community.

      For someone who has been a politician as long as he has, it is shocking just how inept his political skills are.

      Without winning the confidence of middle Australia the government is gone at the next election. In order to survive Abbott needs to go ASAP.

      • I don’t think it’s Abbott who is leading the LNP, rather it is lead by a bunch of wingnuts. Abbott was brought in specifically to sink the carbon emissions trading bill negotiated by MT. And LNP has drifted further to the right since disposing of MT during the 2010 and 2013 elections.

        Just look at the recent revolt of the LNP MPs, threatening to vote against the government on one of the policies.

        Which policy was that?
        Was it the GP tax? No.
        Was it the FBT, Super, NG rort? No.
        Was it immigration? No.
        Was it higher education deregulation? No.

        It was Abbott abandoning the original changes to racial discrimination act section 18C. They at up in arms because Abbott is not legislating to allow them or Andrew Bolt to radically abuse other members of the community through outright lies.

    • And it’s absolutely ridiculous, how expensive could it be to simply put the country of origin on the bloody packet?

  3. Diogenes the Cynic

    Been campaigning on this issue for a while. I do not buy products from New Zealand because of their lax labelling and never buy anything from China.

    Disgusting comment from Das ABboat.

  4. So true, our food labelling is sh!te and this disgraceful outcome is only set to continue. How can it not!? Standards are not consistent! Food sourced from certain places in the world (China and NZ included) goes back on the shelf. I must commend Coles on offerring Australian frozen blueberries which have been hard to source consistently beforehand.

  5. mine-otour in a china shop

    The biggest lobbyist against most proposals for better food labelling are the food processors and supermarkets.

    This disaster, alongside the failure to implement an easy traffic light system on food nutrition (which has been proposed and works in other countries) shows what happens when you let industry run the show.

    This country should be blessed with health people with good healthy food on their doorsteps – instead we have a lot of obese people assisted partly in their health declines by lobbying groups.

    • They’re all doing their bit to prevent Joe Hockey’s spectre of a 150 year old living Australian coming to pass. Bit by bit they’ll halt and then reverse the longevity gains.

  6. Yea sux but if we want to be a part of Asia we need to take the good with the bad.
    Bottom line is Aussies need to get their Heb A & B vaccinations. I’ve met lots of Aussies travelling around SE Asia that have not had Heb A/B vaccination and that’s just plain silly. Sure you can probably do a week in Bali without it but a month in Vietnam without HepA would be insane.

    Heb A is so prevalent in parts of China that you’d have to be crazy think this berry problem wont happen again and again and again, China is becoming a major trading partner so this sort of thing is just going to happen . This time it’s berries next time apples or maybe lettuce or maybe …..

    • Berries are wash in-situ pre-freezing and generally not rewashed before use and are mostly consumed raw. It has high risk written all over it to this little black duck.

    • Label it clearly and unambiguously ‘Grown in China’ so I can avoid eating it. Problem solved.


      if we want to be a part of Asia we need to take the good with the bad.

      Good time for a referendum on ‘do we want to be part of Asia’, between Bali 2, this berries thing, O/S real estate investment etc.

    • whether we are part of asia or not the last place you want to eat food from is China. And too say we have to put up with it and get vaccinations is saying we should accept a filthy standard of living.

      I’ve visited factories in china where the water coming out of the factories to cool the machines is going straight into vege patches next door. ive seen canals glowing green and people pumping the water straight onto the plants

      screw accepting that

      http://www.chinapost.com.tw/commentary/the-china-post/frank-ching/2014/04/30/406518/Chinas-big.htm

      • @Alby, trust me whatever you’ve seen I’ve seen worse, I’ve traveled extensively in parts of China that few tourists ever see and have been doing so since the mid 80’s . I know just how terrible food supply security is in China and I know that fixing China’s food security is way beyond my capabilities I also know that labels are cheap, so if food produced in China cant be legally sold in Australia we’ll suddenly find that the Philippines is exporting crops they dont even grow, that’s the cold hard reality. I dont approve of it but I definitely understand that it happens.

    • “Yea sux but if we want to be a part of Asia we need to take the good with the bad.”

      No we don’t in this case. Label the food properly and let us choose whether we want to eat it or not.

      • I am with China-Bob on this one. If you interact with the Chinese you have to throw out any assumptions you have about playing by Western rules.

        You can be as high and mighty as you like, but you don’t really have a choice. Australia will be interacting with China, and Chinese companies will, certainly from time to time, have little or no time for arbitrary Western rules. Do you think that if a company is prepared to sell poisoned milk powder to Chinese families that there will not be many more that will be prepared to put a “grown in Australia” label on a box of fruit?

        Not that these kinds of behavior are limited to Chinese companies.

      • “If you interact with the Chinese you have to throw out any assumptions you have about playing by Western rules.”

        We are playing by western rules. It is NZ who imported those food from China. It is NZ who exported those food to Australia pretending they are from NZ. Western rules doesn’t automatically make it better.

    • CB not everyone can get vaccinated, there is such a thing as allergies to vaccines. Herd immunity doesn’t work when you’re importing contaminated sources directly from a country with low herd immunity.

      Is it really so difficult to put the country of origin on the packet of the food product?

  7. this incident has nothing to do with labeling but with food inspection laws and procedures.

    This doesn’t mean our labeling rules are good, in fact they are one among the worst in the western world.

    Label ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ sounds like a tasteless joke.

  8. One might suggest the tune being played by the government is likely to change when the number of cases reaches the hundreds as opposed to the dozen or so. This has some way to play; given the time from infection to symptoms, my numbers are in realm of reality.

  9. My Partner is Chinese.
    When she goes shopping she checks the food origin. if its from China, she puts it back on the shelf….

    Food security in China is a huge issue for the Chinese themselves. It’s alarmingly hilarious that we are not aware that the Chinese themselves do not trust food from within their own country.

    Baby milk powder is a typical example of this issue. There is a HUGE market in sending Australian made baby formula back to China for re-sale. So much so that even Gina Reinhart has seen the $$ signs all over this and is investing half a $billion into supplying the Chinese with baby formula.

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/china/chinas-infants-in-gina-rineharts-sights-in-baby-formula-push-20141114-11mg4s.html

    • Interesting investment strategy – target the fastest declining demographic segment in the world (Chinese babies).

      • That doesn’t make a difference. Every dairy farmer in NZ, Australia, Europe, the US and even China itself (the world’s third largest milk producer) has expanded their herd to meet China’s demand. In Europe, quotas which prevented expansion of dairy production end next month, and dairy farmers have been stocking their herds in preparation, and intend to send all the extra milk to China.

        Think of it as liquid iron ore. If supply overshoots demand, the only way to restore balance is to remove production.

    • I’ve always said that the best advantage Aussie producers have is their distance from the northern hemisphere.

      We should be running marketing campaigns like N.Z’s 100% Pure ad’s and putting a premium price on it. Sadly the lucky country is not a smart country and hasn’t realised what an asset we have in being an underpopulated for its land mass. China sees it, we don’t.

    • @Forrest Gump
      What your wife is doing is way behind the times.
      Product labeled as from China is actually produced under much tighter standards now. Why? Simple, because any country that imports food from China subject them to the most rigorous testing standards because China has a reputation.

      But China still have dodgy exporters. What do they do? Export it to countries like NZ and then slip through the back door.

      In fact, these days I try to buy Australian only. Food from NZ I place lower than China, because I assume it’s the stuff from China that can’t pass food safety tests trying to sneak through the back door.

      • @ Kevin from a further down post question :

        “How do you know the hep a virus was not from Chile?
        The recalled berries were sourced from both China and Chile.”

        Without wanting to split hairs I do & did know that both companies products currently having problems with frozen berries have on their packaging in very small print the China connection. I saw this in store & rejected purchaseing for that reason. So the product of Chile was then sent to China for processing & packaging.

        The difference with both Coles & WW Home brand Frozen berries is that yes they are both a product of Chile BUT I am now satisfied that they did NOT go to China to be packaged. They are grown & packaged in Chile & I will take the punt that this is less dangerous than China which has a sad history of food problems.

  10. It is not really surprising that we are finding diseased, and unhealthy goods entering the country considering the open door policy we currently have with regard to unhealthy and unproductive capital inflows.

    What is ironic is that we actually have more regulations restricting the entry of local goods into the market.

    In effect we have quasi quarantine laws that ONLY apply to domestic goods.

    Liberalising trade is a good thing providing that two things are kept in mind.

    1. It does not mean lowering rational and justifiable standards of public health and worker safety.

    2. It does not mean allowing countries to manipulate the trade relationship with predatory and unproductive capital exports.

    Fairly simple and modest restrictions on trade that only a neo-liberal free trade fundamentalist would object to.

    • “unhealthy goods entering the country ”
      They are already in our own backyard, pfh007.

      Invest a little time on the links in my comment below. Cadmium salt is used to stabilize the NKP components in our fertilizers…..and only recently have they started investigating the potential of the plants to uptake the cadmium. There are several studies available to investigate.

      It is hypocritical of us to call out China on this.

      • What do you mean “calling out China”

        The issue was local farmers complaining that standards that apply to them are not being applied to China.

        What you seem to be suggesting and with considerable merit is that our existing standards are still not high enough or in some areas are non existent.

        That supports what I am saying that liberalised trade in goods must be subject to justifiable standards of public health and worker safety.

        Apply those standards to local goods and to goods from off shore equally.

        In a sense apply a uniform system of ‘quarantine’ to restrict from the market, goods from any source that do not comply.

        ….. and that goes for grubby blight infected capital flows as well …… 🙂

    • interested party

      No attack on you mate….i should have worded it better.

      From my perspective, if we outsource food production…we must expect people to take the short cut, to find the back door, and to eventually make some percentage of the end consumer ill. It is a far from perfect world, and with the pressure on the farming sector greater that it has ever been historically, these ‘events’ are just going to be more common. It is inevitable……unless we take personal responsibility and eat local well grown produce. It may cost more upfront, but the medical bills from a food related sickness can be huge.

      There is a good case for closing the borders here…..fixes your grubby capital flows and sorts out my food quality argument.

    • Something more prosaic. Last week a container of grapes for export to China was rejected by quarantine here (part of the reciprocal FTA), re-assessed and passed the next day by a different officer, re-labelled and shipped to Thailand.

  11. Infected berries are just the tip of the iceberg.
    We have seen the food on our shelves change from natural healthy heritage strains to commercialized manipulated/modified versions that resemble something we once ate and considered normal. This process has concentrated the growing capacity into the hands of big business and it’s farming equivalent.

    The 3000 mile ceasar salad……
    Horrible tasting tomatoes that bounce…….
    Asparagus from peru……
    Citrus from Usa…..
    Melamine laced milk products from China…..

    I am not batting for the Australian farmer here……they have been an environmental curse on our landscape, acting like plagues of locusts destroying the soil ecology to the point of absolute depletion. Salinity from aquifer irrigation ruins huge areas of land, and the farmers typically pack up and move on to the next block of land, knock the trees arse over head, and start that very same process. During this process there comes a time when drought arrives and as there is no natural soil structure or root system from natural vegetation, the remaining topsoil ends up in the air as dust storms……… and eventually it rains….and we end up with massive erosion events.

    I feel for the hapless buggers who have been infected by this berry episode, however, while we continue to look to others to feed us, this stuff will continue…and probably happen more and more. While we continue to use chemicals to replace the natural system, this stuff will continue.

    Are you aware of the use of cadmium salts to encase some common fertilizers…..????

    ” Cadmium is relatively soluble or easily solubilizable in soil, with the pH being the
    principal factor determining the degree of solubility. Other factors leading to
    increased
    solubility include for example low organic matter content, low clay content
    and low cation exchange capacity. Cadmium from fertilizers seems to be more
    soluble in the soil than Cd from deposition, manure, or Cd from soil parent material.
    In general, cadmium is extremely easily taken up by plants as compared to many
    other trace elements.”
    from this link….
    http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/chemicals/files/reports/finland_en.pdf

    It is difficult to establish on the ground evidence of this material…but enough is about to get the idea.
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FB%3AWATE.0000044832.04770.41

    Folks, you eat a chemical cocktail when you eat ‘modern’ food……you really should not be surprised with the Hep situation.

    The only game in town that turns all this around is permaculture…..but most here will not venture down that path as it entails a life of less crap…less monetization……less manipulation of your fellow man….and where is the profit in any of that!

    Enjoy your chemical soup, peeps.

    Infected berries highlight deficiency of food labeling ??? I call absolute bullshit on that. Control what you eat….grow your own, and eat what is in season.

    • I agree. I grow a lot of my own veges. But growing my own meat would be a challenge…I couldn’t kill an animal, well violently anyway…maybe with an overdose of sleeping pills.

      • AD,
        I approach it this way. I give utmost attention to the feed quality and the living conditions of our animals here. I want them to have a very pleasant existence……and then they have one bad day. No stress….no fighting……..no idea really. They have one bad day…that’s it…….and they are not even aware of that outcome, but we are. It helps.

    • @ip

      That personal responsibility thing is all very nice, but what is the government going to do about it? /sarc

      • interested party

        haha,

        Well I suppose we really should need to get permission first to trial self determination and personal responsibility, eh…….you never know what these recalcitrants could do with such seditious thoughts and behaviours……/sarc backatya.

        But on a serious note, it seems to me that many….if not most here want big brother to nurse them. Gov employed perhaps?

        I don’t like the taste of that tit…sorry!

      • But on a serious note, it seems to me that many….if not most here want big brother to nurse them. Gov employed perhaps?

        How is advocating better food labelling (so more “personal responsibility” can be taken in choosing it) “wanting big brother to nurse them” ?

      • interested party

        drsmithy

        “How is advocating better food labelling (so more “personal responsibility” can be taken in choosing it) “wanting big brother to nurse them” ?”

        This subject is huge. It starts and ends with the commercialization of life. We have outsourced our food production to make time for more work hours to pay for the upmarket realestate that sits empty during the day because we need two incomes to service that debt over the upmarket realestate that sits empty. Because we all now work…that is both partners…..we sell off to the lowest bidder ( complete strangers mostly ) the right to entertain/educate our children in the ways of the modern family. Some sell to the highest bidder as a social trophy……schools do that to some parents…..

        So…..personal responsibility fails on the willingness to sell our kids bonding to complete strangers……it fails on the quality of food you give to the family…..when in past times we were content with an average home that had enough room for a good sized veggie patch, you knew your neighbor so shared produce over the fence. But we are so busy making ends meet that we must now import food from the other side of the world…at the same time we have growers here plowing complete orchards in as they cannot compete with the imported produce. Personal responsibility means we don’t support this behaviour. We don’t rely on Gov to regulate the problem away…..food labels are just cosmetic, as the damage is being done here while we sit back and quietly complain that some berries were crook.

        dr, in a nutshell this is just more evidence of the food crisis that is coming our way. It appears we cannot feed ourselves and must look to the Gov to ‘fix’ the problem….and since when has that really worked?

        Food labels should denote country of origin….but home grown is home grown. Live the fast life of the city and you expose yourself to the risks.


      • Food labels should denote country of origin

        That’s all anyone is asking for – most people here seem upset about the use of Trojan horse ‘Made in NZ’ or similar labels used to deliberately mislead, which is the exact opposite of what you appear to agree food labels should do.

        Caveat emptor, sure, but the principle is undermined if deceit is permissible.

      • interested party

        Stat,
        The problem starts with allowing our food to be imported…..PERIOD.

        Country of origin……..fkn Australia!!!!!!!

        edit to add……..The very same gov you are looking to ‘regulate’ the problem away is the same gov ( different colour but same anyway ) that has allowed cheap imports to decimate our home based food suppliers……that is what pisses me off most. Grow your own at home is all the better.

      • We have outsourced our food production to make time for more work hours to pay for the upmarket realestate that sits empty during the day because we need two incomes to service that debt over the upmarket realestate that sits empty.

        The “outsourcing” of food production happened long, long before the property bubble. Most people haven’t grown their own food – which seems to be the scenario you are advocating – for centuries.

        Your premise is broken. Food imported from the other side of the world, in the philosophy you are ostensibly presenting, is no different to food imported from the next town, and that is something that’s been going on since that food was being transported by horse and cart.

        dr, in a nutshell this is just more evidence of the food crisis that is coming our way. It appears we cannot feed ourselves and must look to the Gov to ‘fix’ the problem….and since when has that really worked?

        This is a such an absurd misrepresentation of what is actually happening it’s difficult not to assume you’re just trolling.

        Food labels should denote country of origin….but home grown is home grown. Live the fast life of the city and you expose yourself to the risks.

        So let’s get this straight. You castigate people for not buying “locally”, then castigate people who want regulations that allow them to accurately determine whether or not food is produced locally, then to top it off you agree with them that regulations should be tighter.

      • interested party

        Stat..

        “So to be clear you want legislation to prevent food importation.”

        Not at all. I don’t believe that legislation will achieve diddlysqat……

        The damage has been done to our growers…many orchards have been removed. I want people to take responsibility for the quality of food…not rely on gov to ‘fix’ it.

        Ok, so we need to import food…. mark the food with country of origin. What comes next? Back-doors exist, profit rules…people get greedy……..what comes next?? Tighter legislation??…..big business has deep pockets…politicians like large donations…..legislation fails……what come next???????

        If we grow our food here in Aust, both commercially but best at home…all your issues fade away. THAT is what I would like to see.

        Gov is not the answer…they are part of the problem.

      • interested party

        dr,

        I will try to keep this concise.

        The out-sourcing of food is at a historical extreme.

        Food will be locally grown again ,in time.

        People not buying locally has allowed this situation to occur. If we eat by seasonal availability…we can eat local.

        The gov is not the answer to all our problems. maybe if we had supported our growers more, and expected apples in apple season and waited for the next years crop if out of season….our apple growers could rest easy knowing that they are providing a valued service….but no, we want apples all year round. We want everything all the time. Screw our farmers….we can get cheaper produce overseas when ever we want it……..

        It has come full circle now. Seems we cannot trust the quality anymore from offshore. Pity…..we ripped all our trees out.

        I am castigating society’s greed of lifestyle….that is it.

      • The gov is not the answer to all our problems.

        So long as you keep banging on about this straw man, it’s clearly pointless try to have any meaningful discussion.

    • Home-grown or organic tomatoes are nothing like you get at markets/supermarkets. It’s the quickest and easiest way to demonstrate to people that they’re eating “fake food”. Even something like cheapo supermarket rolled oats taste like cardboard once you’ve had organic oats.

      Permaculture assumes one has access to land – hard to be self-sufficient with a balcony or face the need to move house every 6-12 months. Government policy is driving access out of the grasp of ordinary Australians.

      Happily I’ve had a decent amount of cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes this summer. Nothing beats freshly harvested foods from the yard. 🙂

      • interested party

        “Permaculture assumes one has access to land – hard to be self-sufficient with a balcony or face the need to move house every 6-12 months. Government policy is driving access out of the grasp of ordinary Australians.”

        The biggest problem here is between peoples ears. The smaller the available land the more productive it can be…in yield per m3.

        Community gardens, leasehold land, group purchase, or the big one……..change your life and relocate out of the cities. Again, education ( read unwillingness to investigate, you know…what will the neighbours think) ) on the subject is lacking, but progress is being made. If people can get past the asumption that it is a new-age hippy thing, they actually find it is very relevant to their situation.

        “Nothing beats freshly harvested foods from the yard. ” yep, sad that many don’t experience such a simple practice.
        Have a look at this ….

        http://urbanhomestead.org/urban-homestead

        some facts on small holdings……..enjoy.

      • ErmingtonPlumbing

        My tomatoes (improved Apollo’s )didn’t go to well this summer in Sydney, to much rain this season and I have been using the same plot for the last 6 years which doesn’t help, the basil went mental though which was good.

        Going to do potato’s next, the Irish electrician at work says he has not eaten a decent potato since arriving in Australia 4 years ago! He is bitterly disappointed with our potato’s.

      • interested party

        Ermington,

        Basil is great…pesto and sauces.
        We are just finishing our mango crop….4 wheelbarrows off the one tree…..the missus has been in the kitchen for a week making chutney, spicy bbq sauce, and preserving a heap for winter deserts….
        heaps of other things going off.

        Good on you for doing that…..

  12. Food labelling is so deceptive.

    “Made from local and/or imported ingredients”

    This hides the difference between a blueberry grown in a sweet rain soaked field in Coffs Harbour or one grown in leached out soil and watered with human sewage in a third world country.

    Cooking oil is another one that is incredibly deceptive.

    “Pure vegetable oil” is in most cases 100% soya bean oil which 30% of the population are allergic or intolerant too. Yet many labels don’t even have it listed as a potential allergen on the label.

    This has the potential to kill people and as a result I view this as criminally negligent by our elected officials.

    Note: we have adults and kids in our family with soy and milk allergies. Dinner should be a fun social event, not a hazard with Epi pens at the ready.

    • interested party

      You are probably aware then that water qualifies as the local ingredient……all else can be imported.

  13. Government doesn’t have any guts to take bold decisions. Australia has the potential to produce world class product and export around the world. but all greedy bogans are looking to housing to make a hole.

    Australian govt. should be promoting innovation and entrepreneurship to drive growth and prosperity.
    China is well known for their pollution & I wonder why anyone would want to consume anything from China. Even native Chinese are flocking out of china because of this. Really bogan government we have.

  14. “The last thing I want to do is put a whole lot of additional requirements on business that will make their life very, very difficult and will raise unreasonably prices to consumers because everything we do in this area has a cost.”

    This comment reflects a serious judgement delinquency- well beyond’ breathtaking’ and collective ‘gasp’ territory.

    Even the Chinese are trying to find a better way.
    Note: Interesting method to deal with ‘others’ who ALSO don’t take food safety seriously:

    China Ex-Food and Drug Chief Executed
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/09/AR2007070900689_pf.html

  15. The Mad Monk spouts “OPEN FOR BUSINESS! I DON’T GIVE A STUFF IF YOUR FOOD IS POISONED. MY FAMILY IS PRIVILEGED AND RECEIVES FREE SCHOLARSHIPS. I HAVE A LIFE TIME PENSION AND FREE TRAVEL AND OTHER BENEFITS. SUCK IT UP PLEBS!” The guy is so out of touch with reality.

    I’ve been aware of the loophole via New Zealand for a while now. If it says “…and imported” then you can’t really trust it. Even the regular “fresh” food from the supermarkets are a pale comparison of real food from certified organic and biodynamic food traders. If you’re not eating organic you’re eating second-rate food (or worse).

    Barcode prefixes can be a simple but unreliable guide for avoiding imported foods (especially if from NZ!):
    http://blog.barcoding.com/2009/04/barcode-prefixes-and-product-country-of-origin/

    Edit: Also be aware of canned fish. It may be sourced from “questionable” parts of the Pacific Ocean.

    • Barcodes in Australia are completely useless for identifying the Country of origin.

      I refer to both Coles & Woolworths Home Brand Frozen berries which we have been enjoying for some years now. After the recent breakout of Hep A I checked with both Coles & WW and they confirm the berries are Grown AND Packed in Chile -which is OK with me because it’s NOT China ! I would never buy again if they were product of Chile but packed in China.

      However the barcodes are useless – as they are probably designed to be for consumers!

      WW Bar Code for Frozen Blackberries is : 9300633 469016
      Coles Barcode for Frozen Blueberries is : 9300601 328901

      The Code for Chile is 780 GS1 Chile !!
      The Code for Australia is 930 — so tells SFA

      • How do you know the hep a virus was not from Chile?

        The recalled berries were sourced from both China and Chile.

      • Worst food poisoning I’ve ever had in my life was in Chile, after eating strawberries. No complaints about the plumbing though, thankfully top-notch.

      • Worst food poisoning I’ve ever had in my life was in Chile too. Chile has had a number of cholera outbreaks and I’d swear that was what I had.

        I’ve been in a Chile at times when getting a raw salad impossible – all foods to be cooked by government decree.

        Much better now tho. Except, possibly, for berries 😉

  16. Yes, Tone is an idiot (again).
    Mind you, those cunning Kiwis need to be watched. It’s a bit like the ending from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
    “A berry for you , a berry for me, a berry for you (heh heh heh) …….

  17. Once again we are determined to screw ourselves over for foreign interests. Why in this country we need to import any types of food instead of promoting growth of our own agricultural industries is beyond me.

  18. Reading through the comments here is very telling.
    How many of you are serious about taking responsibility for your food production…….or put another way, why are many of you calling for government to step in and ‘regulate’ the problems away……FFS people….take responsibility for once…you complain about too much interference from big government, yet run to them for all your answers.

    Outsource your food supply and you take what you get. Simple really.

    Good grief……no wonder the state of this country.
    Personal responsibility…so old hat!!

    • My Mrs and I are already producing our own fruit and vegetables in our backyard, any food we buy I make sure are locally grown. And organic where possible.

      It still disappoints me tough when going to the supermarket and seeing how much of our food is now imported. Not long ago we were self-sufficient for food, now that’s all been destroyed by obsession with globalisation and brands and choices have been removed from the shelves and replaced by imports.

      • interested party

        Don’t be disappointed dude….it will revert back in good time. The smarter ones in society will willingly make that transition however I believe most will be forced through economic hardship…..it is still not ‘cool’ to go down this path.
        Still, it is a fight worth pushing for me. I don’t give a stuff for all the economic bullshit that goes on here, and could not care less for the political games. They are human created bullshit generators…

    • The government is the representative of the people. We put them there to serve us not to rule us.

      We the people of this country ARE taking personal responsibility for our food production by demanding the government that works for us enact regulations to make our food supply safe.

      The government is not separate from the people. It is the people.

      • interested party

        AM,
        While I agree with the context of your comment….the detail is showing the complete opposite.

        Please investigate the links in this comment…
        http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2015/02/infected-berries-highlight-deficiency-food-labeling/#comment-1113140

        While the opportunity exists somewhere for someone to gain an economic edge over competitors, the opportunity exists for poor quality produce to hit your table….irrespective of what our ‘elected’ leaders/employees regulate or dictate……human nature chasing profit, a very ugly mix.

        I do wish that what you say was our reality…..but it is not. So now you have the context that I have tried to wrap my comment within.

        I know that the quality of food that I put on my table is safe to consume….it is beyond organic quality……..and I have been challenging others to do likewise here today. Put up or shut up…so to speak. Food safety starts at home in my house. No offense meant to anyone…just a simple challenge.

    • Good grief……no wonder the state of this country.
      Personal responsibility…so old hat!!

      So if you don’t grow your own food, you deserve to be poisoned ?

      So…. Did you build your own car from scratch, or are you a hypocrite ?

      • interested party

        dude,
        I never suggested people deserved to be poisoned……where did you get that notion from?

        As for the rest of your baiting….i’ll bite, just for you.
        No….I have not built my own car from scratch. It runs well…i have it serviced regularly….and it does not try to poison me……it and I have a mutual agreement on that……

        As for being a hypocrite….that is for others to judge. You seem to have cast your vote without much knowledge of my person or lifestyle….conjecture on your part. What I can say is that I walk my talk…..I come here with complete openness and humility…..and if you struggle with the concepts I take part in conversing on…….my apologies for your inadequacies on such simple topics.

      • I never suggested people deserved to be poisoned……where did you get that notion from?

        You just spent half a dozen posts telling people eating food they bought at a supermarket they deserve what they get for their lack of “responsibility” ?

      • interested party

        You do understand that the supermarkets are key to this problem, don’t you?

        If you support your local farmers market…you stand in far better shape with food quality.

        Responsibility rests on the buyer…….anything imported is suspect. If you trust the big supermarkets to look after your best interests then go ahead….eat yourself silly. I choose a different path, and have expressed here today. If you don’t like that…sorry.
        I have no desire to quarrel with you or any others here. If I have offended anyone it was not the intent. The best quality food is home grown….from my perspective. If you cannot achieve that then support your local growers. Above that, support our national growers. Eat in season produce. And the last resort is imported produce. Gov legislation is meaningless in this day and age. Take responsibility for all of the above.

      • You do understand that the supermarkets are key to this problem, don’t you?

        Yes.

        If you support your local farmers market…you stand in far better shape with food quality.

        Indeed. But not practical for everyone.

        Responsibility rests on the buyer…….anything imported is suspect.

        So without proper labelling, how do you propose people act “responsibly” ?

        *Anything* imported is suspect, really ? Why should I trust food that comes from the south of France less than Western Australia ?

        If you trust the big supermarkets to look after your best interests then go ahead….eat yourself silly.

        I don’t.

        I merely ask they provide the information I need to make educated – sorry, “responsible” – decisions about what I eat, and be held to account when they do not.

        But that’s just “wanting big brother to nurse me”, right ?

        Gov legislation is meaningless in this day and age. Take responsibility for all of the above.

        Please, tell me how someone earning minimum wage and living in the middle of a city “takes responsibility” in your eyes.

      • Try these….

        Yes, we have one of those in our local park.

        Doesn’t seem like a feasible way for any meaningful proportion of people to feed themselves, however.

  19. Unfortunately, it will probably take a few big payout class actions for things to begin to change.

  20. Funny how the government tends to be happy to regulate when the voter can be directly gouged with fees and fines.
    The moment the corporates/business is in the way, its every man, woman and child for themselves.

  21. Funny how regulation to stop contaminated food imports is “personal responsibility” whereas internet regulation and snooping is needed for “national security”.

  22. I agree with Mr Abbott. It is the responsibility of business “not to poison their customers”.

    Should business fail in this responsibility then the CEO of such a business should be jailed and the company fined, say, 20% of yearly turnover. Perhaps shareholders could ensure that a condition of any bonuses and share option issues is that no customer may be poisoned during the applicable time period.

  23. I just spent half hour arguing with a co worker who reckons forcing food to be labeled with country of origin is racist.

    • I usually counter any accusation of racism by openly stating that I dislike ALL races, cultures and creeds etc. equally but just for different reasons. Including my own.

      It tends to shut them up.