Page 4122 - Week 13 - Thursday, 31 October 2013

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Pennington stated that meat “shouldn’t be going into hessian or cotton bags, even if they are wrapped, because the outside of their packages carry bacteria.” He said, “Raw meats should be separated from the rest of shopping—particularly from unwrapped things that will be eaten raw.” Minister, what advice has the government received about the health risks of shoppers carrying raw meat or vegetables in reusable bags?

MS GALLAGHER: In relation to meat, my understanding is that there is usually some barrier between that and the carry bag. But rest assured, Mr Smyth, I did see that in the media some months ago. I did seek specific advice from the Chief Health Officer about any potential health risks associated with this. He advised me that basically there was no evidence to suggest that there were health risks associated with the information that was in the media.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Minister, will you table the advice, and what action is the government taking to advise shoppers about this risk?

MS GALLAGHER: Well, the advice is that there was no risk, so would you like me to put something out saying that there is no risk? I will check the form in which the advice came. I believe it was a written brief, and I do not see any reason why I would not provide it to the Assembly.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Did the government receive public health advice prior to going ahead with the plastic bags ban?

MR CORBELL: I will answer that question, given my responsibilities as Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development and the minister responsible for the development of the plastic bag ban, Madam Speaker. This issue was considered at that time and advice was sought at that time from public health officials. The advice was the same as the Chief Minister has indicated, and it is worth reiterating that meat is, of course, able to be separated, as are fruit, vegetables and other loose items, with the use of what are known as barrier bags or bags on a roll. All of these matters have been addressed in the review on the ban on plastic shopping bags, which is publicly available. I would encourage members opposite, given their interest in the matter, to go and have a look at that review.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Minister, can bacteria from products other than meat accumulate in bags and, therefore, is there a public health risk with the use of general grocery items as well?

MS GALLAGHER: The advice I got from the Chief Health Officer, when I formally referred this, was that there is no evidence that there is a risk to people, other than the risks that exist for all of us in day-to-day life where bacteria normally occur and that

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