(Issued by Department of Agriculture)
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is implementing interim control measures for the export of fresh strawberries.
From 9am AEST on Wednesday, 19 September 2018, a nil tolerance of metal contaminants in fresh strawberries will be enforced by the department to mitigate the risk of these entering the export supply chain.
This is in response to a number of reported detections of metal contaminants in the fruit.
In order for strawberry export permits to be approved, exporters will be required to provide assurance to the department that their consignment is free from metal contaminants.
Interim control measures can include an assurance that the fruit will go through an effective metal screening process (metal detectors/X-ray) prior to export, or on-farm metal screening with measures to ensure product security has been maintained post screening.
Visual inspection alone is not an acceptable measure.
These measures apply to fresh strawberry exports to all markets, and will remain in place until the risk of metal contaminants has been appropriately managed.
Australia has a long-standing agricultural trade reputation to uphold, and the department's role is to facilitate the safe trade of agricultural commodities.
Industry has been advised of these changes, along with relevant state and territory authorities.
At this time, with the source and cause of the contaminants unknown, these measures are necessary to provide assurance for our trading partners that Australia's export strawberries are free of metal contaminants.
Exporters have been advised of the new requirements, and are encouraged to visit Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) for more information.
The associated food safety incidents in Australia are being managed by state and territory law enforcement and health authorities.