Australia has been accused of ‘sabotaging’ the country’s food industry by restricting the importation of cashew oil, the world’s cheapest, for its use in cooking.
This news comes amid a series of negative news stories about the country, including the ongoing drought, the coronavirus pandemic, and a looming threat of climate change.
The ABC has reported that Australia has imposed ‘dramatic restrictions’ on the import of cashews, and the Food Standards Authority of Australia is threatening to ban the oil from supermarkets and restaurants.
A spokeswoman for the food industry said the ban was not a result of ‘anti-cashew sentiment’, but rather because the oil is ‘not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the cooking of food’.
She added that the government ‘was not aware of any adverse health effects from the consumption of the cashew nut’.
The ban has been met with widespread condemnation from those who rely on the oil for their daily cooking.
“It’s a disgrace.
It’s not fair,” said Sarah O’Neill.
“If we don’t have the cashews we need to eat and that’s our food, we’re not going to be able to afford to buy more.”
“I think that the fact that they have to go through all this process to ban it is a very unfair thing to do,” said Julia Rafferty.
ABC journalist Katie Brennan, who visited a market in Sydney last week, was shocked to see how the food business was being shut down.
She said she heard people complaining about ‘cashew boycotts’ but said the ‘sad fact’ is that the Australian food industry is ‘in trouble’.
“I’m not sure if we’re even going to see a ban,” Ms Brennan said.
Cats, dogs, chickens, pigs and other animals are being moved out of the country to Australia to avoid importation restrictions, according to Ms Brennan.
“[But] if you don’t want to eat a lot of animals, it’s not going do you any good,” she said.
“I feel really bad for the animals.”
A spokesperson for the Australian Meat Industry Association said the industry was ‘committed to exporting the best quality meat’ to the US and other markets.
Food Safety Minister, Andrew Robb, confirmed in the Senate last week that Australia would restrict imports of casamoy oil for its cooking and baking, and would impose ‘drama restrictions’ for its sale.
He said the government was ‘in consultation’ with stakeholders.
In a statement, the Australian Cattlemen’s Association said: “The Australian Government will not be banning cashew oils.
This is a matter for the Food Safety Authority of New South Wales (FSANW).””
While Australia is the second-largest exporter of casamia nuts to the United States, there are many countries where casamoys are grown, processed and consumed locally.”
The association said it would continue to work with the government to reduce imports of the oil.