Broccoli recall damaging to growers

The West Australian

A nationwide recall of frozen broccoli florets from China has the capacity to damage the image of the Australian industry, says the nation's peak industry body.

On Friday, all eastern States initiated a recall of Black and Gold brand bags of frozen broccoli after receiving complaints from consumers who had discovered glass in the bag.

"This sort of contamination has the potential for people to lose confidence in frozen food, and is typical of the lax standards in China," said AUSVEG spokesman William Churchill.

"Vegetables from China have had a long history of questionable quality, in addition to a litany of food safety issues involving the use of chemicals not registered for use here in Australia," Mr Churchill said.

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This latest scare follows reports last year that the cancer-causing embalming agent, formaldehyde, was discovered on Chinese cabbages. When ingested, formaldehyde can cause gastro-intestinal corrosion.

"Chinese farming practices have had a big question mark looming over them for years as these stories continually break on the world stage. There is simply a lack of trust in Chinese vegetables and the standards to which they are produced," he said.

AUSVEG has raised concerns that some consumers may confuse the safety shortfalls of Chinese produce with all frozen produce because of the poor country of origin declaration on the pack noting that the contaminated product was from China."The country of origin declaration on the back of the packet is hard to identify and some consumers may associate the risks of eating Chinese frozen vegetables with Australian frozen produce," Mr Churchill said.

AUSVEG is pleading with all supermarkets and retailers to start sourcing their frozen vegetable lines from Australian food processors and producers.

"Australia can't afford to have consumers lose faith in our food supply. The best way to ensure we maintain the consumers trust is by using trustworthy suppliers," he said.

AUSVEG is also calling on the major political parties to do more to improve Australia's Country of Origin Labelling requirements."Country of origin declarations need to be much more prominent on packaging so consumers who are concerned about where their produce has come from can make informed decisions."

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