Australian grown safer thanks to strict guidelines

RISKS: Yarralee Orchard owner Gerbina Gordon said there can be risks for consumers when food is imported from some overseas countries. Photo: ZENIO LAPKA 021915zhep

RISKS: Yarralee Orchard owner Gerbina Gordon said there can be risks for consumers when food is imported from some overseas countries. Photo: ZENIO LAPKA 021915zhep

THERE is always some level of risk when importing food from overseas.

Bathurst orchardists came out in support of Australian-grown food yesterday in the wake of hepatitis A cases from imported berries from China.

Ten Australians have so far been diagnosed with hepatitis A after they ate contaminated frozen berries, now thought to be raspberries, that were packed and washed in China.

While berries are not grown in the Bathurst region, local producers said importing food products from some overseas countries will always have a level of risk.

Yarralee Orchard owner Gerbina Gordon said she has “concerns” following the  hepatitis A cases from the imported berries.

“It’s part of the risk you take when you import produce from overseas, from countries without the same guidelines,” she said.

“Australia has very strict guidelines on what we [as producers] have to do.”

Despite this, she said some countries, like America or New Zealand do have

adequate food production standards like in Australia. 

Hill View Orchard owner Marietta Khoury said she was not surprised to learn that imported berries have been blamed for the hepatitis A cases.

“They don’t have the same guidelines [as for Australia producers] ... there’s always been talk that the Chinese use sewerage on their crops,” she said.

“We’re not allowed to use some fertilisers that are still used overseas ... they still use stuff that was banned [in Australia] in the 1960s.”

Mrs Gordon said the hepatitis cases are a “wake up call” for shoppers to know where their food is produced.

She said Australian grown food can cost a small amount more, but consumers will get the added piece of mind knowing the products they buy are safe.

“I think it’s worth the extra money to know it’s safe and Australian produced.”

HEPATITIS A is a viral infection of the liver and can be caused by chemicals or drugs, or by different kinds of viral infections.

The virus is spread by the faecal-oral route, including contaminated food or water, or contact with an infected person.

Symptoms include feeling unwell, aches and pains, fever, nausea, lack of appetite, abdominal discomfort, followed by dark urine, pale stools and jaundice (yellowing of the eyeballs and skin).

Illness usually lasts one to three weeks, although some symptoms can last longer, and are almost always followed by complete recovery.

Vaccination and good hygiene prevents infection.

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