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.” firstname.lastname@example.org
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