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Progress must be made on a single food agency

Gavan Herlihy National Agriculture Spokesperson

Sunday 13 May 2001

Progress must be made on a single food administration agency

National's Agriculture Spokesperson Gavan Herlihy today called on the Government to act with urgency in progressing the establishment of a single Food Administration Agency inside the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

"It's totally unacceptable that Government inaction has left the reputation of the New Zealand food industry open to risk and excessive administrative cost under the current dual system.

"New Zealand's food safety law is currently administrated by a small, under-resourced group with the Ministry of Health, totally removed from the internationally recognised food safety expertise within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. This is a disaster waiting to happen to New Zealand's international reputation as one of the safest food producers in the international food market.

"In 1999 National put the Food Amendment Bill before Parliament but the Labour Opposition stopped progress. The Bill would have established a single Food Agency in MAF alongside MAF's Biosecurity Agency, which also works to assess international risk in the closely related area of imported plant and animal matter.

"The issue of New Zealand's food safety is far too important to be put at risk by Party politics. National offers its support to the Government to progress a single Food Agency, administered under the umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

"The current acceptance by our international trading partners of MAF as a credible and responsible regulatory and verification authority must not be put in jeopardy in any reorganisation.

"Internal coalition politics within the current Government, which have so far thwarted progress in setting up the much needed single authority, cannot be allowed to continue to expose our most important industry to the continued risk of the dual system," concluded Mr Herlihy.

Ends

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