BUTCHER SHOP: Barritt's Butchery has taken a hard hit after water at Svensson Heights was contaminated.
BUTCHER SHOP: Barritt's Butchery has taken a hard hit after water at Svensson Heights was contaminated. TAHLIA STEHBENS

'This could ruin us': Family butchery's huge loss after PFAS

"THIS could ruin us."

They are the words of Bundaberg butcher Des Barritt, whose emotions are red raw after more than a week's worth of contaminated water woes.

Like the rest of Bundy, Des was rocked by the news last Friday that Svensson Heights' water had PFAS in it.

"I started ringing around to find out what was going on, whether our product was safe to sell or not, but no one could tell me," he said.

GUTTED: Des Barritt said he didn't know if his business would make it after the water contamination disaster.
GUTTED: Des Barritt said he didn't know if his business would make it after the water contamination disaster. TAHLIA STEHBENS

Des told the NewsMail he was transferred from department to department to try and figure out whether he should hold onto his meat or sell it.

"I thought we'd get a visit from council first thing Monday morning," he said.

But Bundaberg Regional Council infrastructure general manager Stuart Randle yesterday told media the issue was a matter for the state's safe food regulator.

Rather than wait any longer and risk his customers' health, Des pulled between $6000 and $10,000 worth of products from the shelves of Barritt's Butchery on Monday.

DEVASTATED: Des Barritt and his family who help out at the family butcher shop had to take a large quantity of meat off the shelf this week.
DEVASTATED: Des Barritt and his family who help out at the family butcher shop had to take a large quantity of meat off the shelf this week. TAHLIA STEHBENS

"We acted on our own and removed all our stock that was manufactured with the processors before the water was changed over," he said.

"I still have to do the final numbers. I don't know where we're going to from here.

My family relies on this business ... I had to take a punt.

"I wanted to be safe. It wasn't the right thing to do to sell it, I wouldn't want to harm anyone.

SADDENED: The family who relies on the butcher shop could suffer in the coming months after the huge loss of stock.
SADDENED: The family who relies on the butcher shop could suffer in the coming months after the huge loss of stock. TAHLIA STEHBENS

"They're unsure of what the effects of this chemical are, that's the worst part."

Des got official notice from Queensland Health and Safety and Safe Food Production on Wednesday afternoon.

Anything made before the water main was switched over had to be destroyed," he said.

FAMILY BUSINESS: Barritt's Butchery is owned by Des Barritt, who has run the family shop for at least 13 years.
FAMILY BUSINESS: Barritt's Butchery is owned by Des Barritt, who has run the family shop for at least 13 years. TAHLIA STEHBENS

Barritt's Butchery sells a large amount of small goods, bacon and ham - all of which was not available again until later in the week.

And while all stocks have now been replenished, the ramifications of the contamination are far from over.

It's been really stressful. I just had a call from Queensland Health wanting to organise when we're going to destroy the products," Des said.

"I'll have to get it all together (soon) and document it."

WASTE: Des Barritt had to take $6000-$10000 worth of meat off his shelves following the PFAS water contamination in Svensson Heights.
WASTE: Des Barritt had to take $6000-$10000 worth of meat off his shelves following the PFAS water contamination in Svensson Heights. TAHLIA STEHBENS

Des said he also had to conduct a full recall, which involved hours of emailing and calling his business customers.

"For a lot of our products it's only certain lines that water is added to, so I had to go through all the batches with them to figure out what they had," he said.

In a voice thick with emotion, Des told the NewsMail if a claim with insurance didn't go through, or if he couldn't get a reimbursement, the water nightmare would hit him hard.

It's a big loss and I still have to pay all my suppliers," he said.

AT A LOSS: Des Barritt said his family relied on the success of Barritt's Butchery.
AT A LOSS: Des Barritt said his family relied on the success of Barritt's Butchery. TAHLIA STEHBENS

"And if people think it's contaminated, it could hurt our business further.

I'm losing a fair bit of sleep at the moment."

To make ends meet, Des said he would have to cut hours with some of his staff over the next few weeks.

"But all our products are safe to eat, I can assure you."



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