Berry sab­o­tage in doubt


STRAW­BERRY grow­ers have ques­tioned whether fruit was re­ally sab­o­taged or if it was all a hoax fol­low­ing the con­tam­i­na­tion cri­sis which swept the na­tion in Septem­ber.

De­spite a fed­eral gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion, beefed up penal­ties and sev­eral po­lice probes, no one has been charged with sab­o­tag­ing fruit.

Af­ter more than 100 re­ports of con­tam­i­nated fruit, po­lice have only laid charges against one man, from South Aus­tralia, for al­legedly mak­ing a false claim that his daugh­ter ate a con­tam­i­nated straw­berry.

On Fri­day, sharp ob­jects were found in straw­ber­ries in the Ade­laide sub­urb of Sal­is­bury and in South Aus­tralia’s Clare Val­ley.

Straw­berry grower Mandy Schultz, whose hus­band Adrian Schultz is vice-pres­i­dent of the Queens­land Straw­berry Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, said qual­ity as­sur­ance mech­a­nisms at farms meant the pick­ers and pack­ers of each straw­berry could be iden­ti­fied. “This did not hap­pen at a far­m­gate level,” Ms Schultz said.

“We have all got such strong qual­ity as­sur­ance mea­sures, I am not even al­lowed to have a sta­pler on site.”

Ms Schultz ques­tioned why po­lice had been un­able to find a cul­prit and sug­gested it could have been a so­cial me­dia-driven hoax.

Po­lice said they are tak­ing the con­tam­i­na­tion se­ri­ously and con­firmed to the Sun­day Her­ald Sun they are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate all re­ported cases. But one po­lice source said au­thor­i­ties be­lieve the “vast ma­jor­ity of cases” were hoaxes and are fo­cus­ing on just a hand­ful of cases which they be­lieve might be linked to a dis­grun­tled em­ployee.

Po­lice in Tas­ma­nia and Queens­land con­firmed that they were con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate re­ports of con­tam­i­nated fruit but no charges had been laid. PAR­ENTS who of­fer fussy eaters food re­wards and pres­sure them to eat may be do­ing more harm than good.

A new study of 208 pairs of Aus­tralian par­ents has found such tech­niques are com­mon among both moth­ers and fathers.

How­ever, they can lead to weight gain, make fussy eat­ing worse and in­crease poor food choices.

Fussy eat­ing in­volves the chronic re­jec­tion of novel and even fa­mil­iar food and is as­so­ci­ated with poor va­ri­ety and qual­ity of food in­take, lead author Holly Har­ris from Queens­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy said.

Al­most half of all par­ents think their child is a fussy eater at some point in their first six years of life.

And yet Dr Har­ris said fussi­ness with food was a “nor­mal and tran­sient phase for most chil­dren”.

De­spite this, “the stress as­so­ci­ated with fussy eat­ing can neg­a­tively af­fect the child, par­ent, or child-par­ent re­la­tion­ship re­gard­less of du­ra­tion”, she said.

“Par­ents may in­ter­pret re­fusal of fa­mil­iar food to be fussi­ness or per­ceive the be­hav­iour as prob­lem­atic and — with good in­ten­tion — use feed­ing prac­tices that may not ap­pro­pri­ately re­spond to the child’s ap­petite,” Dr Har­ris wrote in the Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion Ed­u­ca­tion and Be­hav­iour. “Pres­sur­ing a child to eat has been as­so­ci­ated with in­creased food re­jec­tion and ex­ac­er­ba­tion of fussy eat­ing.

“Of­fer­ing foods the child prefers — of­ten en­ergy dense and nu­tri­ent poor — as a re­ward for eat­ing dis­liked foods is thought to re­in­force pref­er­ence for the re­warded food and re­duce pref­er­ence for the dis­liked — typ­i­cally nu­tri­ent-dense food.”

Dr Har­ris and her team found moth­ers were more con­cerned about fussy eat­ing, re­flect­ing in­creased par­ent­ing sen­si­tiv­ity.

Fathers used more per­sua­sive tech­niques but tended to be driven more by time pres­sures and prag­ma­tism as op­posed to con­cern about the child’s fussy eat­ing. Mel­bourne mother-of-two Donna Spi­teri, 31, said her son Bray­den, 2, was a bit fussy.

“If he doesn’t like it, he won’t eat it,” she said.

“He doesn’t like green ve­g­ies much — things like broc­coli, brus­sels sprouts and pump­kin he won’t eat. But I tend to cook what they like, so I will pick ve­g­ies that I know they will eat, like corn and cu­cum­ber.

“You can’t force it — you can try to dis­tract them and en­cour­age them to eat. I wouldn’t force them to eat some­thing if they’re re­fus­ing it, but I wouldn’t give up on the first at­tempt ei­ther.” su­

Mum Donna Spi­teri cooks veg­eta­bles her son, Bray­den, 2, prefers. Pic­ture: JASONEDWARDS Con­tinue to re-of­fer re­jected food Avoid pres­sur­ing Avoid us­ing food as a re­ward Avoid of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive food

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