Food recalls shows need for stand-alone agency

A record number of food recalls this year shows the urgent need to re-establish a stand-alone food safety agency, Labour’s Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“Figures obtained by Labour show there was 27 recalls in the year to November 27. Since then three other products have been recalled – frozen berries contaminated with Hepatitis A, ham containing listeria and under-cooked smoked chicken.

“Last year there were 27 incidents, a huge jump from the 13 food recalls in 2013.

“Food contaminated with E.coli, Salmonella, Listeria or Campylobacter can have severe health implications.

“The oversight of food standards in New Zealand should be the duty of a stand-alone agency whose sole purpose is to make sure what we eat is safe.

“The Ministry of Primary Industries’ initial decision to tell people to boil frozen berries – instead of recalling the products – put the incomes of importers ahead of the health of Kiwi consumers.

“Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy must issue a directive to his ministry to put New Zealander’s health – not the bottom line of businesses – at the heart of all its decisions,” Damien O’Connor says.