News that a sixth death has occurred due to the listeria outbreak in rockmelons is devastating news for the families involved and will further impact the Australian rockmelon industry.
Consumer demand for rockmelons has dropped by 90 per cent across Australia and has led to the closure of export markets to Indonesia and Singapore. The Turnbull Government’s lack of a response to the listeria outbreak and the crisis in the industry is deafening.
Australians and our trading partners need to be reassured by the Federal Government that the listeria outbreak is under control and that systems and processes have been strengthened to avoid future outbreaks.
The lack of any action by the Turnbull Government is in stark contrast to when there was a Hepatitis A outbreak in 2015 allegedly from imported berries.
Back then the former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce was happy to slam the importing country stating:
“We should have proper country of origin labelling,” Mr Joyce said.
“Maybe other countries are not as concerned about food safety as we are.”
Mr Joyce urged Australians to seek out locally made products.
“Buy Australian and save yourself a pain in the guts.”
Barnaby Joyce continued his outrageous claims stating that country of origin labelling was needed:
“that clearly identifies unambiguously, as soon as you pick up a package, whether it is from our country with our strong ... sanitary requirements”.
“That is making sure that faecal contamination, which is a very polite word for poo, is not anywhere near your food, not going to be put in your mouth,” he added.
Today Minister Littleproud is calling on fast food outlets to display country of origin labelling, but he is silent on the listeria outbreak.
Minister Littleproud must step in and reassure Australians and our trading partners that Australian rockmelons are safe to eat.
The Agriculture Minister’s priority today must be to ensure the security and survival of the Australian rockmelon industry.