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Kiwis should reject T & G's irradiated food plans

12 August, 2004

Kiwis urged to reject T & G's irradiated food plans on-line

Green MP Sue Kedgley turned up the heat today on Turners & Growers' plans to build an irradiation facility and import irradiated fruit from Australia, launching an e-card campaign to enable consumers to send their concerns directly to the fruit and vegetable distributor.

Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson for Food Safety, said there was growing consumer concern about the proposed importation of irradiated foods, such as the first shipment of irradiated mangoes expected towards the end of this year.

"We believe that Turners & Growers have seriously underestimated the extent of consumer opposition to irradiated foods in New Zealand," said Ms Kedgley. "The e-cards provide a mechanism for consumers to let Turners & Growers know how they feel.

"Irradiation destroys important vitamins in food and creates carcinogenic compounds that are not present in non-irradiated food.

"We simply don't need irradiated mangoes and we don't want them. We already have plenty of mangoes on our shop shelves and none of them are irradiated. Why take the risk of eating carcinogenic compounds when we can easily avoid them?" she asked.

New Zealand currently imports some irradiated spices and herbal products, but has never before imported irradiated whole foods.

"The Australian mangoes come from a fruit-fly infested area, and if the irradiation process fails - for even one batch - the biosecurity risk to New Zealand's horticultural industry would be horrific," said Ms Kedgley.

In 2001 Food Standards Authority Australia New Zealand approved a joint application by Turners & Growers and the irradiation specialists Surebeam Australia to add irradiated tropical fruit to our food supply.

This year, MAF Biosecurity agreed to the importation of irradiated mangoes into New Zealand, which cleared the way for Turners & Growers. Horticultural Access Solutions took over irradiation facility plans in partnership with Turners & Growers, following the bankruptcy of Surebeam's parent company.

ENDS

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