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Food decision a victory for commonsense

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The Government's about-face on food safety is a victory for Labour and for common-sense, Labour health spokesperson Annette King said.

"The Government initially rejected the idea of a stand-alone agency and put forward legislation to set up a new Food Assurance Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture.

"But the Government Administration Select Committee discovered the Government had insufficient information and its decision-making process was badly flawed.

"Labour members of the committee, supported by the Alliance and New Zealand First, supported a separate agency. We had serious concerns about a new food agency being located within MAF, which has a strong emphasis on creating opportunities for industry. Food safety on the other hand, is concerned with protecting the health of consumers.

"The select committee rejected the bill, and the Government has now seen sense.

"Industry and consumers need certainty about what is going to happen with the administration of food regulations. The Government's about-turn provides that certainty. National has joined Labour in being committed to a stand-alone agency.

"It also provides certainty to staff at the Ministries of Agriculture and Health who had been left in limbo wondering what the Government was going to do.

"Food safety is crucial to the health and well-being of New Zealanders. The Mad Cow crisis in Britain in a stark example of how wrong things can go if food administration is not addressed effectively. It is now up to the next Government to get it right," Annette King said.

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