RED meat processors have hosed down claims that a foot and mouth disease outbreak would see supermarket shelves stripped of beef and lamb faster than a pandemic lockdown.
The potential for a shortage of red meat supplies stems from the break in the supply chain a national livestock movement standstill would bring.
That immediate standstill is part of industry plans on the detection of the first case of FMD in Australia.
However, Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson explained any hiccup in the flow of beef through to retail would depend on how long that standstill runs for.
That will depend on how big the outbreak is, and whether all livestock movements from the outbreak have been traced.
"Once the control area is understood, movement starts again and in a country the size of Australia it's unlikely one outbreak is going to knock out the entire industry," he said.
"If you think meat won't be processed in Tasmania because the disease is found in one part of the Northern Territory, you are kidding yourself."
While the nature of any potential outbreak is unknown - and therefore the exact consequences - extensive measures were in place to deal with it, Mr Hutchinson said.
"Everyone needs to take a deep breath and look at how things will really work. Our preparatory work is extensive and is happening constantly - scenario planning, crisis simulation."
The idea of meat shortages in Australia in the event of an FMD outbreak has been flagged extensively by producers on social media and also by representative groups including Cattle Council of Australia.
CCA chief executive officer John McGoverne said stopping the movement of livestock and animal products would mean red meat would run out quickly and dairy products would follow soon after.
"This could mean no steak, no flat whites and no ice cream until we start the recovery," he said.
"If we can't get products to the shops fast enough, then prices would go up while farmers still struggle."
Analyst Simon Quilty said a standstill was part of the discussion around shortages at a retail level but poor policy around compensation for producers who have to destroy animals was another.
If livestock sales came to a stop - which he said could well be the outcome given compensation will be paid on the last two sales closest to a producer - the domestic market would come to a grinding halt.
Australian retailers were already hedging their bets around supply in the event of an outbreak by contacting New Zealand exporters for quotes, he said.
Mr Quilty said the idea that there would be a glut of Australian cattle that can't go to export at the same time domestic retailers are buying in NZ beef spoke to the magnitude of what an FMD outbreak would mean.
Both Mr Quilty and Mr Hutchinson expressed concerns about creating panic in consumers.
Not only does it risk sparking panic buying, which throws supply chains into disarray, but it could feed into long-lasting misperceptions, they said.
"There is FMD in other nations around the world and there is meat on their shelves," Mr Hutchinson said.