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Charges laid over endosulfan contamination

29 March 2006

Charges laid over endosulfan contamination

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) has laid 10 charges against the Northland farmer responsible for the recent contamination of meat with the pesticide endosulfan.

Geoff Allen, NZFSA Director (Compliance & Investigation) says he is pleased with the investigation that has led to the laying of the charges, and is confident in an outcome that reflects the severity of the case.

"New Zealand has a world-renowned reputation as a producer of safe food, and the alleged actions of one farmer in applying a plant pesticide to animals could have been nationally catastrophic. For the meat processor affected, its staff and its law-abiding farmer suppliers, the local consequences were severe."

Although the levels of endosulfan residue were lower than those allowed on other foods, such as vegetables, and there were no human health issues, the presence of these residues highlighted that good agricultural practice had not been followed.

"We remind all food producers that they need to follow the rules, and that they're there for good reason. Something that might seem harmless or like a good idea at the farm level could have major impact on New Zealand food exports – something that's worth about $30 billion dollars a year to New Zealand, and represents around half of the nation's income."

The farmer has been charged with five charges under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act and five under the Animal Products Act.

Geoff Allen says that the only positives of the event were that it provided further proof that New Zealand's systems allow for a speedy and full trace back, and that New Zealand's active, transparent and cooperative approach is appreciated by our trading partners.

The case is expected to be heard in the Waitakere District Court in April.


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