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Single, Separate Ministry Committed To Food Safety

MEDIA RELEASE

Hon Wyatt Creech - Minister of Health
Hon John Luxton - Minister of Food and Fibre
2 July 1999


The Government today announced plans to set up a single, separate Ministry to handle all food regulatory and administration issues.

"Ministers have looked closely at the best way to give all consumers, both here in New Zealand and in the many foreign markets we export food products to, confidence about the safety and administration of food in New Zealand.

"We have agreed in principle to set up the single Ministry from July 1 next year.

"We have asked for investigations to be done on the implications - including cost, legislation and machinery of government issues - of establishing either a Ministry of Food or a Ministry of Food and Biosecurity.

"This work will be done over the next 6 months or so, with final decisions expected in March.

"Every New Zealander must be confident about the safety of food, whether it is home grown or imported. This is particularly important as we deal with advances in technology which are challenging traditional approaches to food, production and processing. We want people to be confident that safety is assured when new issues such as genetically modified food come up.

"A new ministry would take responsibility for food safety for both the domestic and export markets, combining the current responsibilities for food shared by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

"The initial plan to transfer responsibility for regulating domestic food safety from the Ministry of Health to MAF will no longer go ahead. Following the consideration of the legislation clearing the way for the transfer, a range of issues were raised about the plan. The Government has looked at these issues, and as a result is doing further work on setting up a single agency," the Ministers said.

"For the time being, the status quo of dual food regulatory systems in the Ministry of Health and MAF will remain, with the two harmonising the respective regulatory system as much as they can."

ENDS

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