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Real independence needed in food safety

Real independence needed in food safety

The Green Party are calling for a truly independent body to regulate our food safety.

Food safety Minister Nikki Kaye has announced the establishment of a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council as part of the Government’s response to last year’s whey protein contamination.

“The National Government created this problem when they merged our food safety regulators into what is now the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and they now have to backtrack and set up new bodies to try and provide independence,” said Green Party agriculture spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“Independence of our food safety regulators is crucial but this body will not provide that.

“We need to have full transparency and genuinely independent advice if trust in our food safety is to be restored in New Zealand and abroad.

“Nikki Kaye has said that she is setting up this body because at the moment there is no independent group to address New Zealand’s food safety – but she fails to mention that it was her Government that got rid of that independence.

“The National Government merged the New Zealand Food Safety Authority into MPI – that was a mistake to have our food safety regulators too close to the food producers and now they have to try and fix that.

“Food safety should be removed from MPI to ensure that trade imperatives and production focus are kept separate to the health and safety needs of the community.

“This announcement shows a failure of the Government’s previous food safety decisions.

“This could be an opportunity to get food safety right but the ‘independence’ is questionable when MPI are the group setting up the council.

“New Zealanders are currently deprived of a robust food standards process because of the joint partnership agreement operating through Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

“Even our Food Safety Minister is a minority member in the FSANZ arrangement being just one vote to nine Australian votes – I can’t see how this new council will correct that.”

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