30 March 1998
MAFF with egg on its face over
By Boyd Champness
FOOD group Tulip International will receive an official apology from the Department of Agriculture after being incorrectly “named and shamed” over Danepak bacon.
In its February food safety survey, MAFF claimed that one of Tulips Danepak bacon products contained unacceptable levels of nitrates.
But Tulip successfully argued that the category in which the unsmoked bacon was grouped was meant for goods sold in sterilised cans and not vacuum-sealed packs — thus allowing the product to have a higher nitrate level.
However, not only has Tulip contested the category in which its products were judged, it also argues that the Governments testing procedures are flawed.
In total, four Danepak products were tested, with three scoring nitrate levels of 21-23 nitrate parts per million (ppm). The fourth scored 444 nitrate ppm.
Ian Young, technical director at Tulip, said he cannot understand how such a negative score was possible when the processing plant in Denmark doesnt use nitrate.
“It uses nitrite, which converts into nitrate, but not at those levels,” he said.
But there is no way of testing whether the MAFF findings are accurate or not because food inspectors only take one sample of each product.
“They need to take more than one sample, so that if their testing is challenged, at least back-up tests can be done to prove whos in the wrong,” Mr Young said.
In the past, back-up samples were not necessary because no one knew whose products were failing the Government tests, he said.
The apology will appear in Aprils edition of the MAFF Food Safety Information Bulletin, which is wherer the initial accusations were made. The bulletin is circulated to food-industry subscribers and the media.
Mr Young said Tulip was happy with the apology and was not planning to take the issue any further.