Tongs blamed for recent meat contamination scare

Posted by James Ferre on 29th May 2008

Retailers, including Coles and Woolworths, are working with the Office of Fair Trading to identify a brand of tongs which is believed to be the possible cause of metal found in food products around Australia in recent months.

A joint national police investigation led by the Queensland Police Service in conjunction with Queensland Health and other State Health Authorities was carried out in relation to the matter. The investigation established that there was no evidence of criminal activity or poor food processing practices leading to the metal being found in food products.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Kerry Shine, said the case has now been referred to the Office of Fair Trading, which is working with retailers to identify the faulty tongs.

“My department has been in contact with retailers, including the major supermarket chains, and they are assisting the Office of Fair Trading’s investigation,” Mr Shine reported. “Obviously tongs are an everyday item used in kitchens across Australia and I encourage anyone who has had shards or pieces of metal come off a set of tongs to immediately contact the Office of Fair Trading on 131 304.”

Mr Shine said it’s believed a new design of tongs, where a flat piece of metal bent under pressure is used to open the tongs, rather than a spring, is to blame for the problem. “Police have provided the Office of Fair Trading with a couple of examples where this flat piece of metal has broken. ” he added. “My department is now talking with importers of this type of tongs to determine which brand may have problems with its design.”

Mr Shine said the Office of Fair Trading has issued an alert to other fair trading agencies around the country seeking information on possible incidents.

“This has been a national problem with metal found in food products in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia and it is important we get to the bottom of this,” he concluded.