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Limited Amount of Corn Products Imported from US

30 October 2000

Early Indications Suggest Limited Amount of Corn Products Imported from US

Early indications suggest that limited quantities of corn products are imported to New Zealand from the United States where a non-approved genetically modified corn product appears to have been used in the production of some food stuffs.

The Ministry of Health is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) , and the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS), to identify what products may contain the corn. The "Starlink" corn in question is currently only approved for use in animal feed in the United States .

Ministry of Health Food Manager, Jim Sim said most of New Zealand's supply of corn and corn products comes from Australia, however, it is believed about 200 tonnes of corn products have been imported from the United States during the past six months.

"We are continuing our investigations to determine if any of this corn is contaminated with the Starlink corn, and if so, what products if any, it may have been used in. We have also asked the US Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide more details about products that may contain the corn, and update us as more information comes to hand."

Mr Sim said to date, one product called Taco Bell brand taco shells, had been confirmed by overseas authorities as containing Starlink corn. This product is not marketed in New Zealand.

"Information is also being obtained from other countries, particularly Japan and Europe to find out if they have found any other foodstuffs containing Starlink corn. "

Mr Sim said once a list of products had been identified, it would help health authorities identify whether the products are marketed in New Zealand, and if so, to ensure they are removed from sale.

"It may take a few days to get all the information together, but once we have it we will be able to take immediate action."

Further media releases will be issued as more information comes to hand.

END

For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277-5411 Internet address: http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

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