2014 September: Kyabram Prosecuted for Fruit Contamination. Pesticide: Propiconazole

Kyabram grower prosecuted for fruit contamination

UPDATE: A KYABRAM fruit grower has been prosecuted for producing quince contaminated with a fungicide.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries pursued the case and the grower was given a two year good behaviour bond without conviction and required to contribute $1000 to the court fund for the breaches.

The court also ordered that the accused pay service costs.

The case was heard in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court recently.

The offending grower was pursued by DEPI after repeated noncompliance and had been caught selling contaminated quinces at the Melbourne Wholesale Market on five previous occasions.

The farm worker who sprayed the chemical — which is not approved for use on quinces — on the fruit also received an infringement notice.

DEPI statewide chemicals specialist Steven Field said it was the first time anyone had been prosecuted under this particular section of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992.

The act has been in place for several years and DEPI conducts regular tests throughout the year.

Mr Field said the successful prosecution was a result of “significant” DEPI investigations.

“The investigation revealed that a registered product containing the active constituent propiconazole had been applied to the quince,” Mr Field said.

Propiconazole is not registered for use on quinces and therefore there is no maximum residue limit set by either Food Standards Australia and New Zealand or Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

“Therefore there must be no detectable residues in these foods,” Mr Field said.

If a chemical, for which there is no MRL, is detected in agricultural produce, then the produce is defined as contaminated under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992, Mr Field said.

“MRLs are set for agricultural and veterinary chemicals in agricultural produce, particularly produce entering the food chain,” he said.

“These MRLs are set at levels which are not likely to be exceeded if the agricultural or veterinary chemicals are used in accordance with approved label instructions.

“This was a difficult case, with numerous complications, and if not for the dedication of DEPI staff, there may not have been a successful conviction.”

DEPI will continue to monitor the grower to ensure he has implemented adequate systems and processes to prevent contamination of his produce occurring again.