As the warm weather rolls in, Port Stephens Council’s Environmental Health team are warning the public about the health risks involved with purchasing prawns and other seafood from unlicensed seafood vendors.
Marc Goodall, Coordinator Environmental Health and Compliance, explains Port Stephens is the ideal target for rogue seafood sellers, passing their product off as locally produced and fresh to tourists as well as locals.
“As summer approaches, we want to warn our residents and tourists to be careful of where their seafood is coming from,” he said.
“Illegal vendors usually approach people in the street or at their local pub or corner shop, and take orders for prawns and then return later on to deliver them.
“The problem is that the source of the product is unknown, along with how the prawns have been handled prior to reaching the customer.
“Whilst often promoted as local produce, they are usually imported frozen prawns, purchased in bulk and defrosted in someone’s backyard, and then sold at a large profit margin,” he said.
The council advises that the sale of seafood in this manner is illegal and also presents a public health risk.
“There are question marks over the ability of these vendors to keep the prawns at safe temperatures and process them in a manner that will not cause serious food borne illnesses. Seafood can be a particularly vulnerable food.”
Any food that is sold within the local government area needs to be from a premises’ approved by the council. Anyone looking to buy prawns from a vendor that seems suspicious should ask to see the vendor’s approval details.
“Fortunately, Port Stephens has plenty of quality seafood suppliers that can be purchased from with confidence,” Mr Goodall said.
Council and NSW Food Authority officers are currently investigating illegal seafood sellers in Port Stephens and Maitland. Persons caught illegally selling seafood can face prosecution by each of these authorities, with significant financial penalties.