The Nannas mixed berry mix.
The Nannas mixed berry mix.

Hepatitis A scare proves a berry good reason to buy local

AS THE fallout from the Nanna's frozen berry national recall over Hepatitis A links continues, local operators have spoken of their relief at opting to stick with local produce.

Jason Lewis, the owner of SeaJuiced, a popular Mooloolaba Esplanade juice bar, said the Hepatitis A scare had only reinforced his decision to source his produce from as many Coast growers as he could.

"We source all our stuff locally," Mr Lewis said.

"We pick a heap at strawberry farms and freeze it.

"We're pretty big on supporting local businesses."

Mr Lewis said his mango stocks, of which they go through $16,000 worth a year, were also sourced from the Coast, as well as large numbers of pineapples.

"We source a lot of fruit fresh, locally, between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast," Mr Lewis said.

"The health food industry's going pretty well... I think a lot of people are getting a bit more curious about where it's all coming from."

Long-time Chevallum strawberry farmer Rick Twist, co-owner of Twist Brothers, said he could not understand why people continued to risk purchasing overseas products to save a few dollars when the integrity of local produce was so much higher.

"Why the hell do people buy this stuff from those countries when their standards are so low and ours are so high?" Mr Twist said.

"Australian berries... our regulations are so tight and so strong, I think they're the best in the world."

Mr Twist said he had no qualms with the procedures used at his and other Australian berry farms, and saw no reason why local produce could not be purchased and frozen.

"We freeze the berries ourselves for our own personal use... my grandkids eat my strawberries, that's how much confidence I've got in my product," he said.

"Australian farmers are proud of their product... we've got the best farmers in the world here.

"I don't care if you're buying a steak or a strawberry, fresh is best."

FRESH IS BEST: Jon Carmichael and Rick Twist, from Twist Brothers strawberry farm, check out the Twist’s patch.
FRESH IS BEST: Jon Carmichael and Rick Twist, from Twist Brothers strawberry farm, check out the Twist’s patch. Jason Dougherty

With five reported cases of Hepatitis A linked to the Nanna's recalled frozen berries confirmed yesterday, the Department of Agriculture expressed its well wishes to those affected but confirmed that imported frozen berries were only screened for pesticides and tested for food standards at a rate of 5% of all consignments.

Deemed surveillance foods, imported berries were not subject to communicable disease testing, a spokesman said.

However, there was now the possibility of the berries responsible for the current recall being shifted to a high-risk status, with increased scrutiny or banned from importation altogether.

HEPATITIS A SYMPTOMS 

  •  Fever
  •  Nausea
  •  Abdominal discomfort
  •  Dark urine
  •  Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)


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