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Thailand stops Australian salad imports

Thailand stops Australian salad imports

BANGKOK: Thailand has ordered a halt to imports of Australian pre-packed salads from a Victorian producer following an outbreak of salmonella. The ban threatens millions of dollars of fresh food imports into Thailand and puts at risk Australia’s high food safety record.

Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoen, spokesman for the Thai Ministry of Public Health, called on Thai consumers who purchased the Australian-sourced salads to dispose of them or return them to the point of sale. The warning came after the Thai Ministry of Public Health was notified by the United Nations’ International Food Safety Authorities Network (Infosan) over the salmonella outbreak in Australia.

Infosan, a joint organisation of the World Health Organisation and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, issued a warning on Saturday that Victoria-based producer Tripod Farmers had recalled 25 types of products it exports, including to Thailand, following the salmonella outbreak.

A FAO spokesman in Bangkok told AAP Infosan received information regarding the recall from its emergency contact point at Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Trade officials are concerned about the impact on Australia’s exports to Asia and in particular. Australia exports about $A2.1 billion of fresh fruit and vegetables each year. Austrade, on its official website, says Australian fruit and vegetable exports to Thailand have reported growth over the past decade as international cuisine has become increasingly popular among Thais in the past 10 years.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures show that in 2014-15, Australia exported $A48.3 million in fruits and nuts to Thailand, and $A43.9 million in “edible products and preparations”.

A statement from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said the Australian embassy in Thailand had “been in direct contact with the responsible Thai agency regarding this matter”.

A spokesperson for the ministry told AAP in a statement Australia values its deserved reputation as a supplier of quality and safe produce to the world.”The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has identified two consignments of lettuce products from a single supplier that may contain affected lettuce that have been exported to Thailand,” the spokesperson said.

She said the ministry would “continue to work with Thai authorities to assure them of the safety of Australian horticulture products”. Trade sources say any longer term impact on agriculture trade with Thailand rested on “how it played out” in controlling the outbreak in Australia.