The native food industry in Australia is developing slowly into a specific and valuable industry that has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the economy in areas of Australia that are economically disadvantaged.
Bush tucker is moving from something of a novelty to a serious contender for domestic and export markets. To make this shift the industry has to address a number of issues :
Food safety is important, as it is a basic requirement and demanded by consumers in both local and international markets.
Labelling is important, as appropriate labelling will identify these unique Australian products in the eyes of consumers.
By addressing these two issues the Australian bush foods industry will benefit considerably in the transition phase from novelty value to mainstream products.
The report identifies food safety issues that the native plant food industry needs to be aware of and address, including biological issues, legislative requirements and buyers’ requirements.
It provides practical advice on meeting these requirements, including food safety guidelines and a model food safety program that can be used to manage food safety risks in individual businesses.
The legislative requirements for labelling and the opportunity to use labelling to promote the value of products are discussed.
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and the Victorian Department of Primary Industry have invested in this project in order to assist the Australian bush foods industry to develop further into a mainstream industry.
The assistance delivered through this project has included literature and training to assist the industry to meet the requirements of the new food safety legislation, a general prerequisite for all food products.
Also, this project has provided assistance to industry on labelling requirements and on opportunities to use labelling to convey the authenticity and value of their product.
This project was funded from RIRDC Core Funds which are provided by the Australian Government.
The authors thank RIRDC and the Department of Primary Industries – Victoria for funding the project.
Barry Dignam did an excellent job advising us on training issues and assessing the competency of industry members who attended training workshops.
Bruce Tomkins and Peter Carr of DPI Knoxfield provided technical advice and encouragement.
Industry members provided advice and encouragement, particularly Gil and Meredith Freeman, Sibylla Hess-Buschmann, Libby Anthony and Dianne Haywood.
In addition industry members provided cash contributions to cover training costs. Yvonne Latham (CSIRO Land and Water, Mount Gambier) and Sarah Eccles (Koorie Business Network,
Department of Innovation Industry and Regional Development, Victoria) were excellent collaborators.
Max Bourke AM of RIRDC, Janette McDonald (QDPI), Nola Caffin (UQ), and Maarten Ryder (CSIRO) provided advice and encouragement.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) and Food Safety Victoria provided technical advice.
Tony Slater of DPI Knoxfield conducted an analysis of opportunities for DPI Victoria to work with the native food industries and provided advice to this project.
Lyndal Peterson, the Environmental Health Coordinator at the South Gippsland Shire Council, kindly spoke with the participants of the Leongatha course.
The Queensland Bushfood Association, the Northern Territory Horticulture Association and Desleigh Dunnett of Charles Darwin University, Darwin, made our final seminars and workshops in those areas possible.