Grow­com col­umn

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS - DAVID THOM­SON Grow­com CEO

GROW­COM in as­so­ci­a­tion with Queens­land Straw­berry Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion are pleased to be ad­vised po­lice have ar­rested and charged some­one with the orig­i­nal act of prod­uct sab­o­tage re­gard­ing the nee­dles in straw­ber­ries in­ci­dent.

We con­grat­u­late Queens­land Po­lice for their ef­forts and hope this per­son will be brought to ac­count to the full ex­tent of the law.

It is dis­con­cert­ing that the charges re­late to just six or seven pun­nets of straw­ber­ries, prov­ing that the ma­jor­ity of the 200+ in­ci­dents were copy­cats or false re­ports.

Controlling bad pub­lic be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing prod­uct tam­per­ing, is a chal­lenge be­yond the con­trol of grow­ers. There was never an is­sue with the qual­ity, in­tegrity and fresh­ness of Queens­land’s lo­cally grown straw­ber­ries.

It is there­fore a shame the cri­sis was driven largely by so­cial me­dia which had a crip­pling im­pact on Queens­land straw­berry grow­ers and to some ex­tent other Aus­tralian fruit grow­ers and ex­porters.

Peo­ple who make claims of tam­per­ing on­line in­stead of con­tact­ing au­thor­i­ties should al­ways be ques­tioned. Those who make claims that are false, at­ten­tion-seek­ing or at­tempt­ing to gain fi­nan­cial ad­van­tage should face crim­i­nal charges.

Aus­tralia has strict agri­cul­tural stan­dards to en­sure the safety and whole­some­ness of our fresh pro­duce.

Our pri­mary in­dus­try bod­ies and agri­cul­tural au­thor­i­ties vig­or­ously and vig­i­lantly de­fend those stan­dards.

Controlling in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­sumer be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing prod­uct tam­per­ing, is a chal­lenge. How­ever, the Aus­tralian fresh food in­dus­try, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Aus­tralian Govern­ment, is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that pro­duce ar­rives for sale in the same con­di­tion that it left the farm.

All state gov­ern­ments and in­dus­tries are cur­rently un­der­tak­ing an in­ten­sive re­view of the events and be­hav­iours that caused and ex­ac­er­bated the food tam­per­ing in­ci­dents.

On be­half of our grow­ers, Grow­com is ap­pre­cia­tive to Queens­land cus­tomers who recog­nised there was no sub­stan­tial is­sue with straw­ber­ries and con­tin­ued to buy the fruit as usual.

We will con­tinue to work with in­dus­try to ad­dress is­sues through­out the sup­ply chain to en­sure an in­ci­dent like this will not again bring an in­dus­try to its knees.

Controlling con­sumer be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing prod­uct tam­per­ing, is a chal­lenge.

PHOTO: FILE

NABBED: A woman has faced court over the berry tam­per­ing scan­dal.

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