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Episode 29: The Australian Strawberry Case

The Federal Government is coming to the financial aid of Australia's strawberry industry, following a number of needle contaminations.

SBS Italian news, with a slower pace. This is Slow Italian, Fast Learning, the very best of the week’s news, read at a slower pace, with Italian and English text available.

Italian

Il Governo Federale ha deciso di mettere in campo significative risorse per arginare l'ondata di sabotaggi all'industria nazionale della frutta.

Con le segnalazioni di ritrovamenti di aghi metallici nelle fragole e anche in altri tipi di frutta che si moltiplicano a livello nazionale, il governo ha fatto sapere di aver messo a disposizione un milione di dollari per accelerare il ritiro dagli scaffali dei negozi dei prodotti a rischio e per potenziare le operazioni di verifica e controllo su questi.

Sono state infatti introdotte delle procedure di più severe per ottenere l'autorizzazione all'export dei prodotti agricoli.

Gli esportatori dovranno fornire prova che la loro frutta non sia contaminata e non contenga oggetti metallici, attraverso l'uso di metal detector e controlli ai raggi X prima di ottenere il nulla osta all'export da parte del Dipartimento dell'Agricoltura.

La vice leader del Partito Nazionale, Bridget McKenzie, ha dichiarato alla ABC che sarà aumentato anche il numero di addetti al controllo dei prodotti agricoli.

"We're announcing as a Coalition federal government, a million dollars to assist in this issue of food safety contamination of strawberries, we're wanting to see more food safety officials on the ground, work with out state and territory counterparts, to make sure when they request a recall that we fast-track that and that we're absolutely investing in increased methods of detection."

La "crisi della contaminazione della frutta" è iniziata due settimane fa, quando un uomo del Queensland ha trovato un ago da cucito in una fragola. Da allora, tra veri e falsi casi, l'allarme si è diffuso in tutta la nazione.

Da quel momento sono stati trovati degli aghi all'interno di fragole distribuite dalle seguenti marche: Donnybrook Berries, Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries, Oasis, Berry Obsession e Berry Licious.

Ci sono state anche denunce di aghi da cucito e altri manufatti metallici trovati all'interno di frutti di bosco, mele e banane provenienti da tutta la nazione, in quelli che vengono definiti come casi di emulazione da parte dei responsabili, i cosiddetti "copy-cat".

"That just freaked me out and I'm thinking my daughter normally just grabs and just bites into apples."

Il sovrintendente della polizia del New South Wales, Danny Doherty,ha dichiarato che queste azioni equivalgono ad un atto di tradimento e che i responsabili rischiano conseguenze penali molto gravi.

"In relation to the motivation in relation to these offences, we still haven't had any confirmed motivation or reasons why a person would want to do this. But all investigations are being treated as genuine. However any incidents of self-contamination or suspected copycat incidents impact on the industry and are very unhelpful to authorities and will be treated as food contamination, which again is a serious offence which carries (up to) ten years' jail."

Nel frattempo sono state pubblicate online le immagini di camion che scaricano migliaia di fragole nel terreno per essere risotterate.

L'associazione Queensland Strawberry Industry afferma che alcuni partner commerciali in Russia e in Gran Bretagna stanno pianificando di bloccare le importazioni australiane, mentre la Nuova Zelanda ha annunciato questa settimana che ritirerà questi tipi di frutta coltivata in Australia dagli scaffali dei suoi supermercati.

Tuttavia, secondo la senatrice McKenzie, i coltivatori hanno bisogno del sostegno dei consumatori.

"We've got over 260 strawberry growers across the nation, it's a half a billion-dollar industry, and it's a significant export industry, so we've seen some devastating images of strawberries being dumped and we produce over 800,000 punnets of strawberries a day and when you think about the tiny amount of contaminated strawberries that we've seen over this past week, it's important to put that in perspective and as the growers say, 'Cut us up, don't cut us out'. I think Australians have always backed our farmers, we've been doing it in spades (a lot) with respect to the drought and we now need to get behind (support) our strawberry growers."

Il Vice Presidente della Queensland Strawberries Growers Association, Adrian Schultz, ha dichiarato che in un contesto disperato per i membri della sua organizzazione, gli annunci del governo hanno portato un barlume di speranza.

"You know we've been through a fair bit but it looks like it's hopefully turning around now and with support from the government and the public, we can move on."

I governi del Queensland e del Western Australia hanno entrambi offerto ricompense di 100 mila dollari a chi fornisca informazioni che portino alla cattura dei responsabili della contaminazione della frutta.


 

 

English

The Federal Government is coming to the financial aid of Australia's strawberry industry, following a number of needle contaminations.

The Federal Government has promised to act on Australia's strawberry sabotage, pledging one million dollars to fast-track recalls and increase detection measures.

Strict export rules have been introduced as the needle contamination scare leaves strawberry growers in crisis, and police baffled.

Fruit must now be cleared through a metal detector or x-ray machine before the federal Department of Agriculture issues an export permit.

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie has told the ABC more workers will be deployed to help control the situation.

"We're announcing as a Coalition federal government, a million dollars to assist in this issue of food safety contamination of strawberries, we're wanting to see more food safety officials on the ground, work with out state and territory counterparts, to make sure when they request a recall that we fast-track that and that we're absolutely investing in increased methods of detection."

The contamination crisis began almost two weeks ago when a Queenslander found a sewing needle inside a strawbery.

Since then needles have been found in six strawberry brands: Donnybrook Berries, Love Berry, Delightful Strawberries, Oasis, Berry Obsession and Berry Licious.

There have been reports of sewing needles or other metal spikes in berries from around the country, and also in apples and bananas in what's believed to be copy-cat cases.

"That just freaked me out and I'm thinking my daughter normally just grabs and just bites into apples."

New South Wales police detective superintendent Danny Doherty has described the scare as an act of treachery, warning those responsible could go to jail.

"In relation to the motivation in relation to these offences, we still haven't had any confirmed motivation or reasons why a person would want to do this. But all investigations are being treated as genuine. However any incidents of self-contamination or suspected copycat incidents impact on the industry and are very unhelpful to authorities and will be treated as food contamination, which again is a serious offence which carries (up to) ten years' jail."

Images have been published online of trucks dumping thousands of strawberries to be ploughed back into the ground.

The Queensland Strawberry Industry says some trade partners in Russia and Britain are planning to block Australian imports, while New Zealand announced this week it would take Australian-grown berries from its supermarket shelves.

Australian growers need consumer support now, more than ever, Senator McKenzie told the ABC.

"We've got over 260 strawberry growers across the nation, it's a half a billion-dollar industry, and it's a significant export industry, so we've seen some devastating images of strawberries being dumped and we produce over 800,000 punnets of strawberries a day and when you think about the tiny amount of contaminated strawberries that we've seen over this past week, it's important to put that in perspective and as the growers say, 'Cut us up, don't cut us out'. I think Australians have always backed our farmers, we've been doing it in spades (a lot) with respect to the drought and we now need to get behind (support) our strawberry growers."

Queensland Strawberries Growers Association vice president Adrian Schultz says amid the growers' devastation, there has been a sliver of hope from the government's announcement.

"You know we've been through a fair bit but it looks like it's hopefully turning around now and with support from the government and the public, we can move on."

State governments in Western Australia and Queensland are offering a 100,000-dollar reward for any information that leads to the prosecution of those responsible for the contamination.

Report by Charlotte Lam

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