Frozen Berries

frozen berries

Here’s some interesting information I came across lately in regards to frozen berries that you might find helpful… it was definitely an eye opener for me…

A recent story aired by “Today Tonight” revealed we might be getting more than we bargained for when it comes to our favourite brand of frozen berries.

Brands under the microscope: “Creative Gourmet”, “Woolworths Select”, “Nanna’s” and “Coles Fresh Frozen” products.

The findings? The following brands were found to contain traces of a number of fungicides and pesticides that are BANNED here in Australia due to their carcinogenic (cancer causing) effects on the human body.

* Creative Gourmet frozen berries and Woolworths Select frozen berries were found to contain Carbaryl – Carbaryl is a cholinesterase inhibitor and is toxic to humans. It is classified as a likely human carcinogen by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.)

* Select Mixed Berries were found to contain the chemical Pyraclostrobin- a suspected carcinogen.

* Coles Raspberries were found to have traces of Difenoconazole – a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor.

These fungicides are considered “toxic to humans and are NOT permitted for use in Australia.

So how did these chemicals make their way into our food chain? Most of these frozen berries are imported. Creative Gourmet import their berries from a variety of countries including CHILE, Serbia, China and Poland. The report also interviewed an Australian farmer who said they just can’t compete with the low costs from overseas.

In a separate report, berries that are imported from CHILE were found to contain traces of DDT. DDT is one of the most dangerous pesticides that has ever been used on our food supply and as a result, has been banned in Australia for many years. DDT has been linked to the following:

– This chemical is likely to cause cancer.
– Reproductive effects have been observed in animals, including early onset of puberty in females, infertility, and sex reversal (fish). High DDE levels in mothers’ blood may also increase the likelihood of preterm birth and low birth weight.
– Changes in the normal levels of thyroid hormone.
– Chronic effects on liver, kidney, and nervous system (in laboratory animals).
– Laboratory tests of animals have shown evidence of birth defects (abnormal tail development) and other developmental effects (impaired learning in maze tests)

DDT is still being used in parts of China (another country who supplies our berry producers). Woolworths and Coles are now conducting their own investigations however, all products are still available on the shelves of all supermarkets.

If you can find the spare coins, berries should always be organic varieties or pesticide free. Their soft permeable surface enables them to absorb high quantities of pesticides. If you can’t afford organic, choose Australian producers in order to ensure you aren’t ingesting any banned chemicals forbidden here in Australia.

So what is our alternative to store bought frozen berries?

Frozen Berries – DIY (Do It Yourself):

As the season for some berries (like Blackberries) is limited freezing them ourselves when we see them would be best…

  1.  Pour your blackberries into a colander and rinse in cool water. Shake out as much water as possible.
  2.  Remove any stems, leaves or damaged berries. Also remove any under or over-ripe berries.
  3. Spread the blackberries out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Then, stick the tray in the freezer.
  4. Once the berries are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or another freezer-safe container of your choosing. Return them to the freezer.
  5. Date label your Frozen Berries – To avoid freezer burn, try to use your frozen berries within six months.

A tip for a low budget vacuum sealer:

“To remove the excess air from a ziploc bag, put a straw inside the bag and zip it closed as far as possible. Then suck the air out of the bag, pinch the straw shut where it enters the bag and pull it from the bag and quickly zip the bag the rest of the way”