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Govt inaction risks threat of superbugs in our food

13 February 2013

Govt inaction risks threat of superbugs in our food

The Government must follow other countries and move to continual monitoring of antibiotic resistant bacteria in our food, not leave it unmonitored for eight years, the Green Party said today.

The Government did their first and only baseline study into antibacterial resistant bacteria on food in 2011. The Minister for Food Safety has answered a parliamentary question from Mojo Mathers with the response that depending on funding becoming available, the Ministry intends to do another survey in around 5 years’ time.

“Other governments, including Denmark and the United States, do continuous monitoring, but our Government is content to leave our food unmonitored for almost eight years,” said Green Party food spokesperson Mojo Mathers.

“We need more regular monitoring to catch problems early, and ensure that our foods aren’t adding to the huge public health problem of antibiotic resistance,” said Ms Mathers.

“New Zealand’s lax food monitoring means that our public health is being gambled with.

“The way we produce food, with extensive use of antibiotics in many areas, is leading to the growth of bacteria that can’t be killed by them.

Michigan State University’s recent study of Chinese pig farms found antimicrobial resistance at levels 192 to 28,000 times higher than the control samples.

“Overuse of antibiotics in food production is leading to the growth of superbugs resistant to antibiotics. This problem is increasingly urgent and the New Zealand Government needs to wake up to it,” said Ms Mathers.

“The World Health Organisation presses the importance of frequency of monitoring food because of the speed at which this resistance can grow.

“It’s especially important to monitor foods that are known to be at risk of harbouring superbugs. We need to be testing chicken meat for antibiotic resistant bacteria.

“Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems and our food production systems have been identified as one of the sources. We consider this Government’s ‘she’ll be right attitude’ to be irresponsible.

ends

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