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Committee urges dumping of bee products' warning

A regulation that had upset the bee industry by warning that certain products could cause severe allergic reactions appeared to make "an unexpected or unusual use" of regulation-making powers in the Food Act 1981, says a parliamentary committee.

In a report issued today, Parliament's Regulations Review Committee has upheld a complaint relating to amendment 11 to the New Zealand Food Standard 1996.

The amendment to the regulation, which came into force on 17 April, requires that products containing royal jelly, bee pollen and propolis carry mandatory warning labels referring to the possibility that the products can cause severe allergic reactions, especially in asthma and allergy sufferers.

The bee industry subsequently complained to the regulations review committee about the amendment.

Committee chairperson Jonathan Hunt said the committee was concerned that the Minister of Health did not have sufficient evidence to justify the decision that mandatory warnings be put on bee products.

"As a result of the lack of scientific evidence presented to the minister, we determined that the amendment was contrary to Standing Orders, in that the regulation is not in accordance with the general objects and intentions of the Food Act 1981, the act under which the amendment was issued.

"The regulation appears to make an unexpected or unusual use of the regulation-making powers in the Food Act 1981.

"A majority of the committee recommended in its report to the House that the Government revoke amendment 11 to the New Zealand Food Standard 1996."

Associate Minister of Health Tuariki Delamere has advised the regulations review committee that a working group will be established to review the amendment.

"We are pleased the group is being set up and will include scientists acceptable to the bee industry. We were informed, however, that the group will not meet until the end of July," Mr Hunt said.

"We hope the group conducts the review with some urgency and reports to the minister as soon as possible.

"Because the amendment remains in force, I consider it is appropriate to move that the regulation be disallowed. I intend to give notice of a motion for the disallowance of the amendment when the House resumes on 13 July," Mr Hunt said.

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