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Chinese trade deal means more food safety concerns

30 September 2008

Chinese trade deal means more food safety concerns: Greens

Food safety concerns can only grow with the start of New Zealand's preferential trade deal with China tomorrow, says the Green Party.

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says the official start of our trade agreement with China, on October 1, could also signal an increase in unsafe food products.

"Consumers have the most to lose from this controversial trade agreement," Ms Kedgley says.

"Serious concerns have been raised about the safety of food products from China, in light of the infant baby formula debacle and concerns over melamine contamination of White Rabbit sweets and other milk products.

"The advent of the preferential trade agreement with China has the potential to raise more food safety fears and further undermine consumer confidence in Chinese goods."

Fast tracking provisions of imported goods at the New Zealand border that are part of the trade agreement (requiring most goods to be released within 48 hours of arrival at our border) could easily lead to further contamination of our food supply, Ms Kedgley says.

"It's clear that contaminated food is able to slip through our borders and enter the food chain, as it did in the case of the White Rabbit sweets and the recent illegal genetically engineered rice from China, and I am worried that the fast track provisions could make it even easier.

"Given China's poor food quality standards, I believe we need much more testing of imported food at the border, not fast tracking procedures.

Ms Kedgley notes that while many other countries were quick to ban imports of suspect Chinese goods containing dairy products, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority has yet to officially recall contaminated products such as the melamine contaminated sweets.

ENDS


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