An outbreak of Hepatitis A in Queensland attributed to imported red berries from China branded ‘Nannas’ has sparked outrage among consumers.
KAP Federal Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter will be moving legislation immediately upon Parliament resuming to address the gross imbalances between quarantine standards for Australian and foreign food producers.
Nine people are reported to have contracted Hepatitis A after eating Nanna’s Mixed Frozen berries, which are grown in China, with three of those to have come down with the outbreak from Queensland.
Mr Katter was in no doubt today that the numerous diseases in Australia were as a result of Australia’s quarantine imbalances and the attitudes of both ALP and LNP Federal Governments.
“At the moment there’s a requirement for 100 percent inspection on exports and supposedly five percent inspection in imports. In reality, the manning levels are such that there would not be one percent inspection of imports.
“I have flower growers in North Qld which have to have 100 per cent inspection, every box has to be inspected going out a cost of $350 an hour. In a meatworks, every single piece of meat is inspected that goes out of that meatworks.
“So it’s one set of rules for our poor exporters going out; and another rule entirely for the importers that compete against them coming in,” Mr Katter said.
In 2013 Mr Katter co-sponsored the Imported Food Warning Labels Bill that called for mandatory warnings on imported foods.
“I will be moving the legislation again as soon as Parliament resumes, but this time around the legislation will tighten the quarantine laws together with the labelling laws, so that the same rules apply for imports as for exports.
Mr Katter said that a tightening of labelling and quarantine laws may have prevented an outbreak like the present.
“You have to ask yourself, why are Australian people exposed and why won’t the ALP and LNP allow us to label to know where our food is coming from? We’ve moved this legislation before and we got no votes off either the ALP or LNP.
“Why not? Because both are ideologically free-marketeers and they have reached the point of fanaticism. There is also the huge amount of money that the giant supermarkets will have to bear if they have to comply with labelling laws, as their products come in from overseas and they don’t want to disclose that.
“We are now net importers of seafood and net importers of fruit and vegetables. So much for Australia being the food bowl of Asia.
“In the case of seafood, almost all of the seafood that is imported into Australia uses water that contains raw sewerage. The prawns and fish therefore need to be chock-a-block with antibiotics.
“The people have a right to know whether the product they are buying came from overseas or whether it came from extremely hygienic conditions in Australia,” Mr Katter said.