AUSVEG says glass found in bags of frozen broccoli could damage the reputation of the entire Australian frozen food industry.
Several shoppers recently complained about shards of glass in their 500 gram packs of Black and Gold frozen broccoli, which is imported from China. This led retailers in East Coast states to voluntarily remove the brand’s broccoli from their freezers. Metcash, the company which distributes the Black and Gold’s frozen vegetables, has also launched an investigation.
China’s Standards in Question
While the fault lies with the Chinese market, AUSVEG public affairs manager, William Churchill worries about the scare’s impact on the local industry.
“This sort of contamination has the potential for people to lose confidence in frozen food, and is typical of the lax standards in China,” he said in a press statement. “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.”
Churchill worries shoppers may not realise the problem lies with Chinese produce and become nervous about buying any frozen foods. He claims Australia’s quality assurance systems are amongst the best in the world, so consumers can feel confident buying Australian frozen vegetables.
Lobby for Better Labelling
Churchill urges the nation’s major political parties to improve country of origin labels to protect the local industry. He claims the common labels which read “Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients” are confusing, as shoppers can’t be sure where the imported component hails from. He wants clearer labels to be displayed prominently on packaging to help consumers make more informed shopping decisions.
Home Grown Support
Mr Churchill also believes supermarkets and other retailers should do their part and commit to sourcing frozen vegetable lines from Australian farmers and processors.
“Australia can’t afford to have consumers lose faith in our food supply,” he said. “The best way to ensure we maintain the consumers’ trust is by using trustworthy suppliers.”