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Banned chemicals allowed in NZ meat

Banned chemicals allowed in NZ meat

New Zealand consumers are being exposed to residues of chemicals in meat that are banned in Europe and the USA because they are considered a risk to human health, Green Safe Food spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

Ms Kedgley said she was alarmed that our government allows veterinary drugs such as furazolidone and dimetridazole to be fed to food producing animals such as pigs and chickens in New Zealand, when it is illegal to do so in Europe and the USA because they are considered to be carcinogenic.

Ms Kedgley said she was astonished that MAF had issued a warning to New Zealand farmers not to use these chemicals on animals that are destined for export, but has placed no prohibition on feeding them to animals that are to be consumed by New Zealanders.

"Is MAF saying that it is fine for New Zealanders to be exposed to residues of these potentially carcinogenic compounds, but not for our overseas customers?" Ms Kedgley asked.

Furazolidone, an antimicrobial drug that is used to treat bacterial infections, is used in several veterinary products on sale in New Zealand that are administered to chickens and pigs. It has been banned in the European Union and in the USA after the American Food and Drug Administration found that it could induce cancer in humans and other animals.

Dimetridazole is used in several veterinary drugs for pigs and chickens. It is banned throughout Europe and in the USA because of concerns that it can induce cancer and birth defects.

Both furazolidone and dimetridazole are on the Commission of the European Union's list of compounds which are considered too dangerous to set a maximum residue level, the maximum amount of any chemical that is allowed to be found in food products.

Ms Kedgley called on the Minister of Food Safety to take immediate action to ban the use of these drugs on any food producing animal that New Zealanders eat.

"The Minister is responsible for ensuring the safety of all the food New Zealanders eat," Ms Kedgley said. "She must take responsibility for ensuring that no New Zealander is exposed to residues of these dangerous compounds."

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