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GE food study full of holes

20 August, 2003

GE food study full of holes

Green MP Sue Kedgley has labelled the Food Safety Authority's study into GE food labelling compliance as a pathetic reading of selective facts.

Ms Kedgley said that despite the glowing self-appraisal in their press release, the actual Food Safety report was short-sighted and revealed disturbing findings.

"This report highlights the reality that the labelling regime in New Zealand is woefully inadequate," said Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson for Food Safety.

"Quite frankly, to target 103 foods out of the millions of foods that are sold here each year is pitiful."

The Food Safety Authority's report, although the small sample, highlights serious deficiencies and a lack of surveillance in the system:

* Although 71 per cent of manufacturers had adequate documentation, only 40 per cent had current documentation.

* 94 per cent were relying on assurances from their suppliers for the status of the ingredients.

* Only 40 per cent of manufacturers considered that their products included at-risk ingredients. That 60 per cent had not indicated this is more a case for ignorance than diligence, considering that many of the targeted products contained soy and corn ingredients.

* The report actually stated "40 per cent of manufacturers were unsure which ingredients were at risk and which were not".

* 17 products were conclusively found to include some GE contaminants, and one significantly exceeded legal limits.

* The study targeted supermarket products, not places where food is sold for immediate consumption, such as bakeries, restaurants and cafes.

"Given that there has been a huge trend towards eating away from home, New Zealanders cannot take comfort in this report," said Ms Kedgley.

"What this report doesn't tell the public is anything about products with a relatively small percentage of a high-risk ingredient. A three per cent corn-based binding agent could easily be 100 per cent GE. How would the public's right to know what they eat be protected in these cases?" asked Ms Kedgley.

"It shows that our food labelling standards are totally inadequate because it allows hundreds of GE ingredients to remain legally in the food products, even though they are not labelled."

ENDS

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