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Food industry calls on Minister to apologise

Industry calls on Minister to apologise for misinformation

Health Minister Annette King yesterday accused the industry of trying to stall regulations to set up a register of dietary supplements and other complementary health products - a claim which has outraged the sector.

Industry analyst Ron Law said the Minister could not truthfully say that the industry was trying to avoid regulation and should retract her statements and apologise. “The complimentary healthcare industry has been seeking more appropriate regulations for almost five years, but had the rug pulled under it by Minister Annette King,” he said, as he released a letter he says proves the Minister is wrong.

In November 1998 industry players had full industry and regulator agreement to develop a risk proportionate set of regulations under an agreed Healthcare and Therapeutic Products Bill. The regulations would have included licensing of suppliers, notification of complementary healthcare products and appropriate Good Manufacturing Practice.

The Minister, Mrs King, and her officials assured industry representatives in April 2000 in her office that she agreed with the proposed bill and that the tougher regulations would be introduced into the House in November 2000. But in January 2001the Minister suddenly pulled the plug and began looking to merge with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Agency (TGA).

“The industry was devastated,” Mr Law said. “We’d been waiting for the tougher regulations and had actively worked to assist in their development. I have a plethora of documents, including many received under the Official Information Act, that demonstrate quite clearly that industry and the public has been systematically mislead, firstly by her officials, and now by the Minister herself.”

“For the Minister to come out a year down the track and try to shove responsibility for the Australian fiasco onto the industry looks like a diversionary tactic - she can’t shift the blame as it’s the Australian TGA that’s at fault here, not the New Zealand industry or the Food Safety Agency.” Mr Law said the New Zealand industry would give the Select Committee a clear message at the hearings – the industry wants proper regulations, but ones managed in New Zealand - not Australia.

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