Vegemite sales will not be limited in remote Australian communities, amid reports the spread was being used in home-brewed alcohol, says the PM.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he did not want a “Vegemite watch”.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion had earlier described the salty spread as a “precursor to misery”, according to local media.
But Mr Abbott said for most people Vegemite, made from brewers’ yeast extract, was “reasonably nutritious”.
“This is a deregulatory government and the last thing I want to do is to have a Vegemite watch,” Mr Abbott on Sunday told local media .
A Queensland newspaper had reported that Vegemite was being made into alcohol in large quantities in some remote Indigenous communities.
Mr Scullion was quoted saying the spread was being bought in bulk to make moonshine.
“Businesses in these communities… have a responsibility to report any purchase that may raise their own suspicions,” he said.
The minister added that in some cases, children were failing to turn up to school because they were too hung-over, and that Vegemite was an increasingly common factor in domestic violence cases.
But Dr John Boffa of the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition, who is based in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, said the problem was not widespread.
“We’re talking about an isolated problem in a couple of communities around a very large nation, and a nation where there is a very large number of Aboriginal communities, and every community is different,” he told the BBC.