It is highly unlikely that popular sandwich spread Vegemite can be used to make home brewed alcohol, according to experts.
Despite being widely reported on Monday, a senior researcher at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology told NITV News that while it is possible, but would be extremely out of the ordinary.
It’s “theoretically plausible but highly unlikely,” Dr Claudia Vickers said.
“If you heat it [yeast] up to temperatures that you would likely need to make Vegemite, that would be very likely to kill the yeast.”
If the yeast is dead, then alcohol can’t be made from it.
The speculation around Vegemite’s role in making moonshine rose when a Brisbane newspaper reported large quantities of booze were being made from the spread.
It intensified when a spokeswoman for Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the minister heard reports the popular spread was being used to concoct home brew in some dry Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
Food scientist Dr Anneline Padayachee from the University of Melbourne agreed that the inactive yeast in Vegemite meant alcohol was difficult to make.
“By the time the yeast gets into the state that it has become Vegemite, it’s deactivated,” therefore it cannot be used to ferment sugar into alcohol.
Science journalist Signe Cane wrote on her blog that she suspects the media had been careless in its reporting.
“This story is completely bunk,” she said.
Tony Abbott quashed the idea of a ban on Monday.
“This is a deregulatory Government and the last thing I want to do is to have a Vegemite watch … because Vegemite, quite properly, is for most people a reasonably nutritious spread on your morning toast or on your sandwiches,” he said.
“What’s important is that we ensure that remote communities, all communities, are being properly policed.”
– with ABC