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Greens call for Food Safety Authority

The Green Party wants a well-resourced Food Safety Authority established.

Food safety and good nutrition resources must receive significantly increased resources and status in the next government if we are to improve the nation's health, Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald told a Dunedin public meeting on health issues today.

A Food Safety Authority would be responsible for food safety, good nutrition, promoting healthy diets, monitoring food additives and pesticide residues, and the advertising of junk food targeted at children.

"It has taken many years to promote a smoke-free environment, including overcoming the strength of the tobacco companies. It may take a while to promote organic food and to overcome the power of the Coca Colas and the Monsantos of this world, but the Green Party believes that is the main route to a healthy nation," Mr Donald said.

"It is absurd that there are only four people in the Ministry of Health who are responsible for food safety issues and good nutrition for the whole country along with a few officials in MAF who have some limited responsibility for food safety. Compare that with staff levels in other government departments.

"The evidence is overwhelming that more than half of cancers are caused or aggravated by environmental factors, and that illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, colitis etc, as well as behavioural problems, crime and a general low level of well-being all have a strong dietary component," Mr Donald said.

"The Food Authority could play a vital role in improving the well-being of all New Zealanders."

It was important medical curricula in Medical Schools emphasised preventative medicine and environmental health.

Mr Donald said doctors, particularly general practitioners, can play a pivotal role in educating families on the value of safe food.

Rod Donald: 025 507 183

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