The recall of frozen berries by Patties Foods has sparked calls for tougher food handling regulations – and now law firm Slater and Gordon is urging anyone affected to contact them as part of a potential class action.
Last week, the Victorian food manufacturer and distributor issued a product recall after a health scare in which cases of hepatitis A were linked to their product.
Slater and Gordon principal lawyer Julie Clayton told SmartCompany said: “We’re investigating whether that will be an appropriate response.
“I’ve heard reports in the media of around 10 confirmed cases. Now that’s enough to make a class action claim, but it’s not clear whether a class action would be viable at this stage.”
Under Australian Consumer Law, Clayton says that Australian distributers of imported goods can be held responsible for product safety to the same extent as if they had grown or manufactured it themselves.
On the political stage, Independent Senator, Nick Xenophon, has called for tougher food handling regulations and a review of the Department of Agriculture and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) food handling system.
He said: “For example, the government does not test for bacterial infections of foods, as part of its spot-checks of 5% of low risk food imports.
“Our system is almost entirely reactive, in that it tests five per cent of food products as they enter the country. We should be looking at issuing permits to export to Australia, so that adequate sanitation and health checks can be carried out in advance.
“This is a serious and widening outbreak of illness apparently caused by basic hygiene failures in China. These berries were considered ‘low risk’ but failed the most basic of health checks – carrying a bacteria common in faecal matter.”
Meanwhile, Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer has issued a statement calling for tougher food labelling laws saying: “We want to introduce a coloured tag system to properly inform consumers of the origins of the products they buy.
“If a product contains more than 5% of the product including packaging not originating in Australia, it would carry a red tag and if an item has 95% or more of its content made in Australia then we would be proposing a green and gold tag.
“The aim of this kind of food labelling reform would enable consumers to be able to make informed decisions about their purchases and to promote and protect truly Australian goods and services for the betterment of everybody in this country.”
PASA’s new conference, Food Procure, is a unique event specifically designed for procurement managers and CPO’s in the food and beverage industries to learn, network and engage with their peers and key suppliers to making their supply chain competitive.
“Preparing procurement for a world of change in the food and beverage supply chain” will be held on 2nd & 3rd June in Sydney. Click here for more details.