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Hamming it Up with Australia's Best!

by 5m Editor
30 June 2011, at 9:10am

AUSTRALIA - Australian Ham Week (3 – 10 July) is a celebration of Australia’s best, and recognises that the best hams are made from 100 per cent Australian pork meat - rather than the imported frozen pork that 80 per cent of hams sold here are made from.

Every week 2,600 tonnes of subsidised, foreign pig meat worth around $10 million dollars arrives on Australian docks from the US, Canada, and Denmark, destined for local ham, bacon and smallgoods makers.

Most Australians agree that when it comes to produce, Aussie is best. Being ‘girt by sea’ with strict quarantine laws means that homegrown is fresh, healthy and safely grown. We are the lucky country… or were.

Australia’s vague and ambiguous labelling laws make it confusing for consumers to make a simple informed purchasing decision to identify 100 per cent Aussie ham.

Australia’s pig farmers have responded with their own label; the Australian PorkMark label. This hot pink, fail-safe identification allows consumers to easily identify products made from 100 per cent Australian pork, produced in line with Australian on-farm practices.

"Our research shows that 95 per cent of consumers want to ‘buy Australian’ if they can identify it. Current labelling for ham and other small goods products can be misleading, or at the least, confusing," says Andrew Spencer, CEO of Australian Pork Limited (APL), the nation’s representative body for pork producers. "For example ‘Made in Australia’ does not mean the product is made from Australian grown pork, only that it has been manufactured here. But the pink PorkMark clearly distinguishes the pork as being made from Australian pork - from God’s country, not God knows where."

In celebration of Australian Ham Week, the 2011 National PorkMark Ham Awards for Excellence are announced. The Awards acknowledge the winners of the nationwide quest to name the country’s very best Australian ham. What better time to bring some cozy Christmas in July cheer to the table. With 121 Australian hams registered this year for the Awards for Excellence, the judging criteria for both traditional bone-in and boneless hams includes a variety of factors - appearance, texture, aroma and of course, taste.

The award for Australia’s Best Ham in 2011 goes to John Yeo of Westridge Meats in Toowoomba, Queensland for his boneless entry.

Butchers and retailers across the country will be participating in Australian Ham Week with ham tastings and special offers.

To date, there are over 318 butchers and smallgoods producers licensed to carry the Australian PorkMark on their Australian grown pork products. Since the inception of Australian Ham Week in 2010, the number of licensees nationwide has increased by almost 40 per cent, indicating the growing push from the Australian public to buy local.

And the national winners are:

Category 1st 2nd 3rd
Australia’s Best Ham Westridge Meats
Toowoomba, Qld
Ph: 07 4635 6611
Boneless Westridge Meats
Toowoomba, Qld
Ph: 07 4635 6611
Schulz Butchers
Angaston, SA
Ph: 08 8564 2145
Andrew’s Choice Smokehouse
Laverton North, Vic
Ph: 03 8360 8688
Traditional Bone In Barossa Fine Foods
Elizabeth West, SA
Ph: 08 8255 3900
Grays Modern Meat Mart
Toowoomba, Qld
Ph: 0439 351 063
Thompson’s Fresh Foods
Hobart, Tas
Ph: 03 6231 3223
* The judges comprised fleishmeister Horst Schurger, who has a Master’s degree in Butchering and Smallgoods from the Master College in Mönchengladbach Germany and two chefs, Paul McDonald and Simon Bestley. Between them, McDonald and Bestley have broad international experience working in Michelin starred restaurants, cruise liners and premier teaching institutions.