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Court sentence pleases Authority

8 August 2006

Court sentence pleases the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA)

A conviction and $45,000 fine is "an appropriate punishment" for an act that gravely endangered a man's life, says Geoff Allen, New Zealand Food Safety Authority Director (Compliance & Investigation).

U & S Chand Investments Limited, operators of Otara supermarket Food World, and director Amit Prakash were sentenced today in the Manukau District Court on charges under Section 11AA of the Food Act. These relate to an incident in when a kitchen hand preparing meatballs mistook the preservative sodium nitrite for flavouring, resulting in more than 300 times the recommended safe level for food.

"While New Zealand has an enviable reputation for safe food and such incidents are not common, the sentence sends a clear message. Vigilance in food preparation is vital and the consequences of poor systems and training or inattention, for public health and safety and food businesses, can be severe.

"All involved in the production, preparation and sale of food are responsible for ensuring the safety and suitability of the food they provide and serve. All food operators should know the relevant sections of the Food Standards Code, Food Hygiene Regulations, local authority by-laws and other applicable legislation. This responsibility is paramount and failures to comply, as this case illustrates, can cause severe health issues."

Geoff Allen says that consumers can be confident in the safety of food sold in New Zealand, but that if that have concerns or suspicions they should contact their local council or Public Health Unit.

"NZFSA and its partners in protecting public health take breeches of standards and legislation seriously and will take the appropriate action when these are brought to our notice. This case and the fine imposed demonstrate this."

ENDS

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