Vegemite & Marmite
Vegemite was introduced in 1923 as a substitute for MarmiteWikimedia Commons

Australia is considering limiting sales of the popular Vegemite spread in some areas following reports it is being used to brew homemade alcohol.

The country's indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion made the revelation on 9 August, calling the yeast-based food paste "a precursor to misery" in certain rural communities.

He proposed a restriction on Vegemite sales in some Aboriginal-dominated areas of Queensland and the Northern Territory, where alcohol is already outlawed.

But the minister ruled out an outright ban on the food product, saying the onus was on local businesses in limiting sales of the product.

'Precursor to misery'

As many as 20 jars of the salty spread were bought at a time in some areas of the Northern Territory to make moonshine, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The government is not seeking to place any restrictions on Vegemite or any other yeast product that may be used in home brew in remote communities," Scullion was quoted as saying by the paper.

"Our priority has always been to get kids to school, make communities safer and get people into jobs.

"Businesses in these communities also have a responsibility to report any purchase that may raise their own suspicions."

The minister added that young people were consuming moonshine brewed from the spread and that it had contributed to incidents of domestic violence.

He told the Courier Mail: "Wouldn't it be terrible to ban Vegemite? Well it's a precursor to misery in [some] communities.

"We are in discussions with many communities, particularly in terms of community-owned stores, not only about healthy products, but about products that are used as precursors to the production of alcohol."

Vegemite was first produced in 1922 by chemist Cyril P Callister as an alternative to Marmite, the supply of which was disrupted during World War I.