Woolworths double bay the kitchen

Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) has hit out at what it calls “misleading advice” regarding the preparation of fresh produce products.

The industry association has contacted the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) regarding a segment on its 7:30 Report programme last night (13 April). It is understood the ABC has been asked to retract comments made on the programme, which encouraged consumers to use disinfectant or soap products when preparing fresh produce to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“It’s disappointing to see factually incorrect statements continually pushed to consumers in what is already a very stressful time,” said Deon Mahoney, head of food safety at PMA A-NZ.

“The advice at the moment is simple, in the home, wash your hands correctly before preparing food and also before eating. Wash your fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly, but don’t use soap or detergents – they are not formulated for food.”

The advice was echoed by Max Teplitski, chief science officer of PMA globally.

“Wash produce only immediately before consumption. Do not spray it with household chemicals, do not wash produce with soap or laundry bleach,” Teplistki said.

In a release issued today (14 April), PMA A-NZ said there was no evidence to suggest Covid-19 is being spread through food.

“Consumers can be reassured that food authorities globally are providing advice that food is not a vehicle for the transmission of this virus,” the release said. “There is no evidence that illness caused by respiratory viruses can be transmitted via contaminated food at this stage.”

PMA A-NZ recently released safety information for shoppers during the Covid-19 pandemic to assist in safe-shopping practices.

“Be deliberate in planning your trips to the supermarket to adhere to the Government advice around social distancing. However, it’s important to remember that the threat is not food or food packaging, but other people,” Mahoney said.

“Where possible, use hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes in store, but you don’t need to sanitise your groceries or their packages - there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19.”