Regular readers will know that I have an obsession with the increasing reach of the regulatory bureaucracy in this state. Calm down – I’m not about to start another rant about the nanny state or red tape.
Today, I am going to give ‘Happy Jan’ an outing – yes, there is such a thing – and make a suggestion about how we could actually value-add a regulatory requirement. In other words, in the modern lingo, how we could make a regulation multi-tasked.
As you will now no doubt be aware, it is now a requirement for all eggs produced in Tasmania to be stamped before being sold. However, you might be surprised to learn two things:
despite the recent kerfuffle here, stamping eggs is not new; and
this new rule at the moment applies only to eggs produced in Tasmania.
Let me unpack those two points for you.
We are told that there are 12,000 cases a year in Australia of egg-related illnesses, and they are costing the nation $44 million. As recently as last month, a batch of bad eggs was blamed for a salmonella outbreak linked to the death of one elderly woman, the hospitalisation of at least seven others and 220 people reporting being sick after the food poisoning outbreak at a Brisbane Melbourne Cup function. We must be able to source contaminated food to minimise incidents like this – and that is why stamping is being introduced.
In the 1950s, the British Egg Marketing Board determined that British eggs should have a lion stamped on them, to show they were British. It was an official stamp, quite regal in fact. They used actor Sir Bernard Miles, who had a distinctive West Country accent, in TV commercials to remind the nation’s egg consumers to “look for the little lion” before they bought their eggs, so they knew what they were buying.
That initial Lion brand was adopted in 1998 by the British Egg Industry Council to demonstrate that the eggs are of the highest quality and are safe to eat. The British Lion is the now UK’s most successful food safety mark with nearly 90% of UK eggs now produced within the Lion scheme. Importantly, not only has this promoted the sale of local eggs, the Lion Code of Practice has effectively eradicated salmonella in British eggs. See more here.
I am certain that I speak for you all when I say that Tasmanians would prefer to eat Tasmanian eggs, wouldn’t we? We don’t want Queensland eggs, do we?
So here’s the positive suggestion. Now that all Tasmanian eggs have to be stamped before sale, how about we make that a distinct Tasmanian stamp? Why not a Tasmanian devil?
The devil stamp would clearly show that eggs come from Tasmania. This would make sure that the people who buy our eggs know that they are buying Tasmanian eggs and supporting local producers. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?
And what better image of Tasmania is there than a little Tasmanian devil?
Now, let’s be clear – I am not for a minute suggesting that the cost of doing this should be borne by our long-suffering egg producers. Among other regulatory costs, they’ve already shelled out tens of thousands of dollars for machines to stamp eggs. (Sorry.) This is one instance where the government should provide the equipment needed to promote our clean green Tasmanian brand – whether that be a small hand stamp or a state of the art commercial egg stamping machine.