Kath Sullivan of The Weekly Times reports that farmers’ markets put the reputation of Victoria’s meat exporters at risk, according to the former chairman of the industry’s Victorian regulator, PrimeSafe.
Tempy farmer Leonard Vallance criticised the Victorian Government’s handling of meat safety, and its relationship with the regulator, as he completed his term as PrimeSafe chairman.
“Farmers’ markets are the achilles heel of the Victorian food industry,” he said. “The reputational risk to our export markets is massive … they (farmers’ markets) are nowhere near adequately regulated.”
In Victoria, PrimeSafe regulates meat processors, including all butchers, abattoirs and supermarkets, but compliance of farmers’ markets is a local government responsibility.
“Local government would be fine if they were doing their job properly,” Mr Vallance said. “The issue is that people are selling meat in less than ideal conditions.”
Mr Vallance said the Government had created “double standards” where butcher shops were required to operate under strict conditions, including in a temperature-controlled environment, but people selling meat in farmers’ markets were not.
“There should be a level playing field for all meat retailers,” he said.
Victorian Farmers Market Association president Wayne Shields said accredited markets complied with the food safety regulation.
“All meat has to be packaged and sealed at a PrimeSafe premises before it can be sold at a market,” Mr Shields said.
He said PrimeSafe “would prefer to snipe from the sidelines,” rather than help small producers.