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Ministry’s food safety resources slashed to the bone

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ failure to monitor toxic and illegal chemicals in red meat is a dereliction of duty, Labour’s Primary Industries and Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“MPI compliance officer Gary Orr today admitted National’s much-vaunted super ministry doesn’t have the resources to routinely monitor and test fresh red meat sold in New Zealand. This is an outrageous omission.

“The 15 Auckland butchers found adding sulphur dioxide to their meat to make it appear fresher were only caught after an investigation was sparked by a local couple becoming ill from eating mince.

“MPI’s failure to monitor this dangerous practise is made worse by its refusal to name the offending businesses. The Ministry is choosing to put the interests of these businesses ahead of consumer safety.

“Naming offending businesses is the best way to ensure commercial and public accountability.

“This is yet another fail from MPI and adds to a long list including the botulism scare and the DCD milk controversy.

“And it again backs Labour’s call for the re-establishment of a well-resourced stand-alone food safety agency whose job it is to protect consumers, introduce regulation and properly enforce it,” Damien O’Connor says.