In Australian public discourse food multiculturalism has been celebrated as a sign of the country’s openness to migrant cultures. Yet, as we show in this article, this apparent celebration of Australia’s ethnically diverse foodscape has emerged alongside a virulent culinary xenophobia at the level of public discourse. In particular, we identify how fears about Asian immigration are often expressed in a distaste for foreign food in the Australian media and official discourse. First, we demonstrate how an advertising campaign jointly funded by government and Australian industry deployed a xenophobic fear of contamination to encourage consumers to avoid food imports and buy Australian foods instead. We then look at how newspaper and television coverage of food poisoning in restaurants and food courts suggests a link between ethnicity and contamination. This analysis of a range of public attitudes to “foreign” foodstuffs highlights that the mainstream enjoyment of ethnic cuisines is not a panacea for long-standing xenophobic discourses.

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