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Food Safety and Standards Conference

New Zealand to Host International Food Safety and Standards Conference

Modern approaches to ensuring meat and poultry hygiene will be the focus of a big international conference on food standards and safety being held in Wellington next week.

About 140 international government delegates and industry representatives will be at the conference to discuss the latest thinking on risk management in the production of meat.

The meeting is the first of the Codex Committee on Meat and Poultry Hygiene to be held since 1993 and will be chaired by MAF Food Assurance Authority's Group Director, Dr Andrew McKenzie.

The committee is part of the Codex Alimentarus Commission - an international agency set up by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Codex aims to protect the health of consumers and promote fair practices in the food trade by setting international food standards for commodities such as fruit, fish, meat and dairy production as well as guidelines for related processes. These guidelines include food safety risk analysis, labelling, inspection and certification.

Andrew McKenzie says that this is a significant conference aimed at reviewing the existing codes of practice for meat processing.

"New Zealand has been one of the countries leading the way towards a more flexible outcome focussed meat hygiene system rather than the more prescriptive process-driven approach favoured previously."

"While the new Animal Products Act approach is internationally-recognised, this conference will provide an opportunity to further discuss benefits and opportunities of the risk based approach in conjunction with Codex as well as to listen to comments from other countries about their philosophies in relation to meat hygiene."

"Benefits from the adoption of Codex principles include simplifying export trade by doing away with replication of compliance processes for countries engaged in international trade," Dr McKenzie said.

In April, New Zealand will be hosting another Codex committee meeting - the Codex Committee on Milk and Milk Products.

That meeting will focus on standards for different dairy products such as creams and fermented milk products. There will be a review of individual cheese standards for different varieties.


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