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Flaws in consumer safety revealed in briefing

5 December 2008

Flaws in consumer safety revealed in briefing notes

The Briefing to the incoming Minister of Consumer Affairs reveals that New Zealand needs a far more robust regime to ensure the safety of imported products and to protect New Zealanders from products that pose a serious risk to consumer safety, the Green Party says.

Green Consumer Affairs spokesperson Sue Kedgley says the briefing acknowledges that globally there was a 47 percent increase in notifications of products that posed a serious risk to consumers from 2006 to 2007, and that 50 percent of the 472 products that were recalled last year originated from China.

"That's a huge increase in one year, and it shows that our present passive system based on waiting for consumers to complain about unsafe products is woefully inadequate. We need to beef up our regime so that we can ensure that imported products are safe, and don't pose a risk to consumers," Ms Kedgley says.

"With the recently signed Free Trade Agreement with China, and more and more consumer products flooding into New Zealand, we have got to have a system that can monitor consumer products and ensure they are safe." The briefing notes say there is an international consensus that product safety risks to consumers are increasing, partly as a result of the increasing amount of consumer products that are manufactured in 'newly industrialised countries without a tradition of norms and institutions that support comprehensive risk management at source'," Ms Kedgley says.

It also acknowledges that New Zealand does not take a proactive approach to emerging risks in product safety, but rather reacts to incidents as they occur. Other countries are responding to the increased risk of these products entering their markets by intensifying their consumer protection strategies, and New Zealand must follow suit, Ms Kedgley says.


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