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Govt inaction on mercury-testing fishy - Kedgley

18 March, 2004

18 March, 2004

Govt inaction on mercury-testing is fishy - Kedgley

Green MP Sue Kedgley today called on the government to urgently test the mercury levels of commonly consumed high-risk fish to ensure that they are safe for consumers to eat.

This follows a warning from the Food Standards Australia New Zealand that high levels of mercury in fish are a risk to the whole population - not just pregnant women as previously thought.

Ms Kedgley, the Green Food Safety spokesperson, said the present situation where only three types of low-risk fish are periodically tested for their mercury content was totally unacceptable, and high-risk fish such as shark, orange roughy and blue fin tuna urgently needed to be tested to allay public concerns.

"Frankly, the public simply does not know if some of our high-risk fish are safe to eat or not," said Ms Kedgley. "We need to take the FSANZ warning seriously and begin an urgent testing regime.

"Seven years ago the Total Diet Survey called for increased monitoring of mercury levels in fish in New Zealand, but so far nothing has happened.

"Let's not let another seven years go by, let's get some action," she urged.

She is also calling on the government to issue a similar warning to the one that has been released in Australia recommending that all people limit their consumption of high risk fish to one to two servings per fortnight, and not just pregnant women.

Ms Kedgley said New Zealand also needed to look at how we can reduce the levels of mercury that is contaminating our water and oceans.

"The primary source of mercury that we consume comes from coal burning emissions and the incineration of products containing mercury," she said.

Micro-organisms in the water convert atmospheric mercury into methyl mercury - at which point it becomes toxic to humans when it is consumed.


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