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Seeking understanding of wild food consumption

NZFSA seeks better understanding of wild food consumption in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) has commenced a review of wild food eaten in New Zealand. The initial focus of this review is basically information gathering – to identify what’s known about the extent of consumption and safety of such foods. The review will also consider whether there is any need for Government involvement in the future such as through research or education. The review is intended to cover all wild foods hunted and gathered for non-commercial uses; ranging from wild game, through fish and shellfish, to plants and berries collected in the wild.

“We recognise that hunting and gathering food from our lands, rivers, lakes and surrounding oceans is an important part of our culture and heritage. Traditional methods of food gathering remain important to certain cultures. Beyond this, recreational fishing and hunting remain popular pastimes throughout New Zealand,” said NZFSA Director of Policy Carole Inkster.

“There is an important difference between wild food gathered for personal use and the food we all purchase from our local supermarket. The food we purchase from our local retailer has been subject to a food safety regulatory system designed to identify and minimise any risks the food may present to public health. In contrast, when a hunter returns home and cooks up the animal or bird they have caught or shot the day before the responsibility for safety is entirely with the hunter.”

NZFSA is not looking to regulate the gathering and hunting of wild foods in New Zealand. The review will help NZFSA gain a better idea of the range of wild foods being consumed and any associated food safety risks. It will also help them to come up with ways of ensuring that any such risks are both minimised and communicated to the public.

“We want to gather as much information as we can from all round New Zealand on the hunting and gathering of wild food. This will enable us to determine whether there is a risk to human health and, if there is, develop a plan based on information sharing to ensure the risk is reduced,” stated Carole Inkster.

“Two-way information sharing would be of great help to the NZFSA in efforts to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness or cases of exposure to potential toxins and contaminants associated with non-commercial wild foods. It would also mean that those hunting and gathering the food could have greater confidence that the food they are feeding their friends and family is safe.”

NZFSA is keen to talk with individuals and groups involved in the hunting or gathering of wild foods for non-commercial uses, including Maori, Pacific Island and other ethnic communities, and consultations are planned for later in the year.

Carole Inkster invites members of the public with research, stories, anecdotes or other information to contact NZFSA. “We would appreciate hearing from anyone with useful information and we will be looking to involve those who provide information in any further consultation, if they are interested”.

People interested in contributing to the review should contact:

Nikki Riszko

Senior Policy Analyst

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