Victoria’s chief veterinary officer Dr Charles Milne has downplayed considerations concerning the discovery of poisonous chemical compounds in livestock close to Esso’s fuel plant in Gippsland.
The Department of Agriculture confirmed 45 cattle and 45 sheep, from three properties in Longford, examined constructive for elevated ranges of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The chemical compounds have been as soon as used in firefighting foam throughout Australia, together with at Esso’s Longford fuel plant.
There have been comparable points on the nearby East Sale RAAF base.
But Dr Milne stated there was no cause for alarm.
“A number of food safety agencies around the world have examined this in detail, including [Food Standards Australia New Zealand] (FSANZ), and concluded the levels that we see in our livestock, the public health risk is negligible,” Dr Milne stated.
“There is no proof so far that these ranges that we see cause points for cattle or sheep, or certainly for the human meals chain.
“We’ve examined cattle and sheep on three premises — some 90 animals in all, 45 cattle and 45 sheep — and we have detected ranges of PFAS in these animals.
“A few of them actually reached the trigger level set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, but the majority fell below that level.”
However, Dr Milne stated even these ranges have been solely a information.
“Nowhere in the world has an authority set a maximum level for these contaminants for food safety. But, having said that, clearly we take this issue very seriously and we look at it from a very cautionary point of view,” he stated.
“This isn’t just a Victorian issue, this is across Australia and indeed across the world.”
Esso has undertaken peer-reviewed blood serum evaluation of livestock, its spokesman Travis Parnaby stated.
“Based on the levels of PFAS measured in the livestock, it was found to be very unlikely that there is a risk of harm to a person from eating the livestock,” Mr Parnaby stated.
‘I will not eat them,’ farmer says
Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority has suggested individuals to not eat PFAS-affected animals.
Ray Shingles farms at Longford, close to the Esso plant, and stated he has been postpone consuming his personal cattle.
“I won’t eat them,” he stated.
“In fact, I love carp and I won’t eat the carp now out of the waterways up here because of the contamination.”
He stated, whereas his farm has not but been examined for PFAS, it’s more likely to be there.
“Our aquifer up here comes through below Esso, from some of those farms that actually are contaminated, so you live in a situation where you don’t know,” he stated.
“It doesn’t do the industry much good as far as I’m concerned and the more we see stuff in the media, it alarms people to actually what is in their food.”
Mr Shingles is concerned he may be falsely declaring livestock as free from chemical contamination. (ABC Open contributor: vikkikay61, file)
Mr Shingles is worried he and different farmers could also be falsely declaring their livestock are free from chemical contamination.
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“We sign a vendor declaration and we have to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’s quite clear,” he stated.
“It’s law that when we are signing these documents and ticking those boxes and putting our signatures to them, we are responsible for the husbandry of our cattle.”
‘Farmers need not declare PFAS particulars’
Mr Shingles stated the difficulty is irritating for farmers, who’re already having to cope with drought.
“When these companies can get away with putting this into waterways, as primary producers, at the end of the day, it’s got nothing to do with us, but we’re the ones that are going to have to foot the cost for it,” he stated.
Asked if Esso would compensate farmers for contaminated cattle, Mr Parnaby stated it was “working with neighbours on a one-to-one basis to provide support where necessary”.
But Dr Milne stated farmers have been in the clear.
“Safe Meat and the integrity systems company who administer the NVDs have advised that farmers do not need to fill in details of PFAS on National Vendor Declarations,” Dr Milne stated.
But he can perceive individuals’s frustration with the difficulty.
“Yes absolutely, but let me reassure you, what has occurred in these animals is when they’re tested, presuming they’re below the trigger levels, they can enter the food chain, that’s not a problem,” he stated.
“When the trigger level set by FSANZ are met then a risk assessment is undertaken, and the chief health officer makes a determination as to whether those animals are fit for human consumption or not.”