Welcome changes to NZ Food Act

Labour food safety spokesperson, Ashraf Choudhary, has welcomed proposed changes to New Zealand’s 1981 Food Act.

Choudhary said New Zealand, as a food-exporting nation, needed to combat unacceptable levels of food-borne illness.

Reform of the Act has become a major focus for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, established under the Labour Government.

“The reform process began with the Domestic Food Review, initiated while Labour was in office, but there has been a need for regulatory reform of the food safety regime for many years. Food-borne illness continues to be a huge issue in this country. We need to combat what are unacceptable statistics for a developed country,” Choudhary said.

“Campylobacter infection reached a peak of 14,790 cases in 2003, a rate of 396/100,000 population, three times the rate in Australia and 30 times the rate in the United States. That gave New Zealand the dubious distinction of having the world’s highest reported rates of campylobacter infection.

“While the number of campylobacter notifications fell to 6693 cases in 2008, that provides no cause for complacency.

“As a food exporting nation, we must reduce this rate further.“

There has also been a recent surge in listeriosis, with 27 notified cases and three deaths in 2008.

More than a third of the cases occurred in people aged over 70.

“Although the reported incidence of listeriosis is low, it continues to be a high priority for the food industry and NZFSA due to its severity and high mortality rate,” said Choudhary.

Source: NZ Labour Party

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