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Single Food Authority Urgently Needed

Foot And Mouth Disease Protection From Single Food Authority Urgently Needed

"The single most effective barrier to the risk of introduction of Food and Mouth Disease from garbage feeding of pigs would be the establishment of a stand-alone Food Authority providing a seamless and overarching approach to food safety", Federated Farmers' president Alistair Polson said today.

Mr Polson was responding to the Minister of Agriculture's suggestion to ban the feeding of food waste to pigs. In a speech to the Meat and Fibre Annual Conference in Rotorua, Mr Polson called on the government "to stop dithering about on the creation of a single Food Authority for New Zealand.

"The current dual structure of having two different ministries (Health and MAF) administering two different Acts (Food Act and Animal Products Act) is exposing New Zealand to serious safety risks with glaring gaps through which disease, such as FMD could spread.

"The evidence coming from the UK shows that restaurant waste containing meat products was the likely cause of the devastating FMD outbreak.

"If we had, as has been proposed for some time, a single Food Authority, restaurant waste would be controlled and managed in New Zealand using agreed and standard risk management processes.

"This would protect our vital primary industry from the threats created by the indiscriminate disposal of such wastes as the one authority would oversee both food service issues as well as the disposal of resultant wastes," Mr Polson said. All waste from commercial food production must be processed correctly before allowing animals to eat it.

It is not just FMD that remains a constant threat. This same scrutiny would also be applied to other potential diseases and other undesirable contaminants that may risk animal or human health. A combined authority would take responsibility for this link in the food chain. A link that is currently leaving us dangerously exposed.

"We must learn from the mistakes of the UK experience, Government must move quickly to plug this glaring gap in our biosecurity net. The need is urgent," he concluded.


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