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Action must be taken against fouled chicken

15 May 2006

Action must be taken against fouled chicken

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority owes New Zealanders an explanation about why it allows heavily contaminated chicken meat to be sold, Green Party Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"A recent ESR report has found that 97 percent of chicken skins tested were contaminated with campylobacter, and 90 percent of the chicken intestines.

"It seems that the Food Safety Authority is not upholding New Zealand law by permitting the ongoing sale of such contaminated food. The Food Act is absolutely clear. It says that no person shall sell any food that is contaminated, injurious to health or unfit for human consumption.

"So why is the Food Safety Authority allowing poultry to be sold that they know is likely to be contaminated with campylobacter?" Ms Kedgley asked.

"Why is there no requirement for poultry producers to test poultry to ensure that only non-contaminated product is sold?

"Instead, the Food Safety Authority is delegating responsibility for the food safety of poultry meat to individual consumers and relying on them to reduce the contamination by adequately cooking chicken. This isn't working.

"At least 14,000 New Zealanders are becoming ill with campylobacter each year, and about 500 people are hospitalised. Other developed countries do not have our levels of campylobacter infection.

"The failure of the Food Safety Authority to enforce the Food Act means there is no incentive for producers and processors to clean up their practices, and control sources of contamination such as the defeathering process and chlorine baths.

"Chicken is a very popular food item. There is no call for its wholesale removal from sale. Yet urgent action must be taken to clean up the poultry producing and processing practices which are the source of the contamination," Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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