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Family butchers hurt by strict food safety rules

August 6, 2015

Victorian butcher’s claim tough new industry guidelines are forcing small producers to stop selling meat.

PrimeSafe, the meat licensing authority in Victoria, have reportedly released strict new regulations that target the dry-ageing beef process. According to an article this week on the GoodFood news blog, the new guidelines require lab tests and expensive dry-ageing equipment, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

These new regulations are alleged to have already forced several butchers to stop this traditional meat preparing process and one ‘acclaimed butchery’ to close down.

Regulators accused of bullying

PrimeSafe is also facing accusations of intimidating and bullying family butchers and small produce farmers.

Sandy Leatham, a butcher and farmer from Benalla in Victoria, has told of her experiences with PrimeSafe and its inspectors. After the new guidelines were introduced, Ms Leatham said she was forced to stop the dry-ageing process that her butchery was well known for, as it no longer complied.

Stopping this process, she said, caused her to lose profits and eventually contributed to her butchery laying-off workers and closing up shop. Ms Leatham also commented on her ‘uneasy relationship’ with PrimeSafe inspectors.

“I was being bullied,” she said. “I even had one customer intervene when the inspector was in the shop.”

Farmers fight food safety regulators

Victorian farmers also made headlines recently after two organisations advocating on behalf of small producers started a fund to fight food safety regulators.

The fund aims to set up a hotline to provide farmers with legal advice on how to deal with food safety officials.

Tammi Jones from the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, one of the groups pioneering the fund, said food safety regulators are misinterpreting food safety laws and hindering farmers.

GoodFood reporters contacted Dr Brendan Tatham, chief executive of PrimeSafe, who supposedly said he was “aware of some of the ‘cultural issues’ involved with his organisation and said he was confident PrimeSafe would become easier to work with over time.”