DPIPWE figures questioned after fruit flies seen at Wynyard Woolworths

EXTENDED FLY ZONE: Image depicting fruit fly larvae in fruit flesh. DPIPWE is investigating reports of fruit fly around produce at Wynyard Woolworths store. Picture: DPIPWE
EXTENDED FLY ZONE: Image depicting fruit fly larvae in fruit flesh. DPIPWE is investigating reports of fruit fly around produce at Wynyard Woolworths store. Picture: DPIPWE

A North-West man has questioned the Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment department’s fruit fly reporting within mainland Tasmania after he saw what he believed to be Queensland fruit flies in Wynyard Woolworths’ produce section last week.

While shopping in the supermarket on Tuesday, Chris Stuart saw that “fruit flies were on and flying around the peaches”.

Mr Stuart reported this to the duty manager, who said she would call her manager “to find out what to do”.

After leaving the store unsatisfied suitable action had been taken by supermarket staff, Mr Stuart called the Biosecurity Tasmania fruit fly reporting hotline.

“The hotline officer said DPIPWE would only investigate if I purchased the fruit, or if Woolies self-reported,” Mr Stuart said.

“I said I wasn’t going to purchase the fruit because that would be irresponsible, and that I was flabbergasted that they were allowing the outbreak to spread by not taking any action.”

A Woolworths spokesperson said the company acknowledged Tasmania had strict biosecurity measures in place, but could not confirm the incident.

“We work closely with the Department of Primary Industries to ensure our ongoing compliance with all requirements,” the spokesperson said. 

“We take our obligations very seriously and every piece of fruit that we bring in to Tasmania is fully compliant with biosecurity regulations.”

Mr Stuart said this incident brings the department’s reporting into question.

“How many fruit flies are there around Wynyard now associated with the sale of peaches from Woolworths? All I know is that my one observation on Tuesday evening has tripled the count of adult fruit flies on mainland Tassie,” he said.

While they could not confirm whether there were fruit flies at Wynyard Woolworths, a Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment department spokesperson said Queensland fruit fly reports were taken seriously.

“The department’s approach is to proactively encourage anyone who suspects they have seen a Queensland fruit fly or larvae to contact our Fruit Fly Hotline on 03 6165 3774 and these reports are followed up,” the spokesperson said.

Visit dpipwe.tas.gov.au/fruitfly for more information.