Aussies Reject Bid to Restrict Moonshine Ingredient Vegemite

By Victoria Kim 08/13/15

Australians were outraged when the government tried to restrict sales of the popular sandwich spread.

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When Australia’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion suggested on Sunday that the government restrict Vegemite sales because it was being used to brew bootleg booze, Australians were not having it.

Scullion called the dark brown, salty spread a “precursor to misery” in dry indigenous communities, linking the home brew to domestic violence and underage drinking.

According to the country’s Bureau of Statistics and Institute of Criminology, Australia’s indigenous population suffers from a significantly higher rate of alcohol abuse.

Scullion painted a picture of people buying Vegemite by the bulk, brewing it in bathtubs, and young children missing school too hungover from “all-night benders,” the Courier-Mail reports.

His remarks garnered enough attention that Prime Minister Tony Abbott had to publicly reassure Aussies that no such restriction would take place.

But a lot of people are unimpressed by Scullion’s stand against alcohol abuse, leery of the proposed virtues of prohibition and frustrated by the level of attention paid to the story despite a lack of evidence that it is a widespread practice.

Far north region crime coordinator in Queensland, Geoff Marsh, said police are aware that home brewers using the yeast in Vegemite to produce alcohol had "done it for years," and police are "not overly concerned" about it.

"It's just one avenue towards [making alcohol], it's not illegal and we're not going to be telling shops to not sell Vegemite or give us the tip on who buys 50 bottles of Vegemite," Marsh told the Guardian Australia.

A staffer who worked with Northern Territory indigenous communities told the Guardian Australia the attention that the Vegemite story had shone on the issue was “disappointing” and did not help the progress some communities had made in addressing alcohol abuse issues.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr