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Food scare reinforces need for labelling

30 July 2008

Food scare reinforces need for country of origin labelling

Consumers who have purchased a product containing unapproved genetically engineered rice should be being warned not to eat it as its affects on human health are unknown, the Green Party says.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority has revealed today that testing has found that an imported rice vermicelli containing Bt63 is being sold in New Zealand.

"While NZFSA should be congratulated for carrying out these tests when problems were discovered in rice products from China imported into Europe in 2006, consumers should be warned not to eat these products," Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"Bt63 has not been approved for consumption by either humans or animals anywhere in the world. Authorities cannot issue any assurances that its consumption is safe as its affect on human health is unknown.

"According to the NZFSA just over four tonnes of this rice vermicelli product was imported and the whereabouts of three tonnes of this is unknown at this stage. I suspect that much of this has already been consumed by unsuspecting New Zealanders or is sitting in pantries around the country.

"More than 550 tonnes of whole grain rice was imported into New Zealand from China in the last 12 months I urge the NZFSA to conduct random tests to confirm that none of this contains Bt63.

"This latest food scare is just one of many over recent years that reinforce the need for county of origin food labelling. Consumers have the right to know where their food comes from so that in cases like this they can choose whether or not to consume products imported from the affected country until the issue is fully resolved."


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