Australia suggests Vegemite sales limit amid 'alcohol abuse'

  • 9 August 2015
  • From the section Australia
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Jars of Vegemite
Image caption Vegemite is something of an Australian culinary icon

Australia's government says some communities should consider limiting the sale of the popular Vegemite spread because it is being used to make alcohol.

It says the yeast-based product is contributing to anti-social behaviour in some remote communities.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion described the salty spread as a "precursor to misery".

He said it was being bought in bulk to make moonshine.

Brewer's yeast is a key ingredient in the spread and is used in the production of beer and ale.

In communities where alcohol is banned because of addiction problems, Mr Scullion said Vegemite sales should also be restricted.

"Businesses in these communities... have a responsibility to report any purchase that may raise their own suspicions," he said.

The minister added that in some cases, children were failing to turn up to school because they were too hung-over, and that Vegemite was an increasingly common factor in domestic violence cases.

But Dr John Boffa of the People's Alcohol Action Coalition, who is based in Alice Springs, in Australia's Northern Territory, says the problem is not widespread.

"We're talking about an isolated problem in a couple of communities around a very large nation, and a nation where there is a very large number of Aboriginal communities, and every community is different," he told the BBC.

He said there might be a need for some local initiatives, but that these should be initiated by the communities themselves.

Vegemite started as a war-time substitute for Marmite, and is now something of an Australian culinary icon, says the BBC's Jon Donnison in Sydney.

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