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Food Chain Clean Up Started

2 July 2002

Minister for Food Safety Annette King says New Zealand will soon have one of the most comprehensive food-labelling regimes in the world, and now boasts a world-leading regulatory programme in the New Zealand Food Safety Authority.

Ms King was commenting on the Green Party food policy released today.

“This Government takes food issues, food information and food safety very seriously. People want to know what is in their food.”

Ms King today launched the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, an agency that will regulate food production, export and domestic consumption, protect consumers and enhance New Zealand’s position as a trusted food supplier.

Legislation to establish the New Zealand Food Safety Authority was passed before Parliament rose, with the support of the Green Party.

“For consumers, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority will provide a greater level of confidence in the food we buy, because all food producers must meet required standards. The industry will be responsible for producing safe food and will have to prove they are doing the right thing.

“One of the Food Safety Authority’s earliest tasks will be to clean up the domestic food chain and reduce the incidence of food-borne illness.

“We have already agreed to one of the most comprehensive food-labelling regimes in the world, one which prompted the Greens to congratulate the Government last year. Mandatory labelling information, in particular the requirement to have a nutrition information panel on virtually all packaged food, commences in December this year and allows consumers to make informed choices when selecting food.”

The new labels tell consumers exactly how much energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, and salt is in each food.

"From December last year, all food with GM ingredients must be labelled to ensure consumers have as much information as possible about the content of the food they eat. GM food in New Zealand must also comply with international standards set by the World Health Organisation and Codex Alimentarius.”

Ms King said no fresh food sold in New Zealand is genetically modified, nor will it be in the foreseeable future. However, some foods, mainly imported, have GM ingredients.
She said the criteria used to label GM foods was based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence available. “Over the next year, at least 1000 foods will be tested for GM content using the latest technology. And the standard currently in place will be reviewed in 18 months’ time to ensure it keeps up with scientific advances and best practice.”

Recent research showed more people were reading food labels, and that label reading becomes more important when women become pregnant, have children, or if a family member develops a specific health problem that requires a change in diet.

“The progress we have made in addressing issues of food safety and information, in a very short time, demonstrates the importance this Government places on food,” Ms King said.


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