New Zealand setting up Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council to provide independent advice to government on issues relating to food safety

WELLINGTON, New Zealand , April 24, 2014 () – Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council is being set up to provide independent advice to the government on issues relating to food safety.

Establishing this council is one of the 29 recommendations of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

"At the moment there is no independent group that looks at the whole of New Zealand's food safety and assurance system and is able to provide high-level independent advice and risk analysis," Ms Kaye says.

"This council is being set up to do this and will report to the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It will provide a valuable sounding board for new ideas and contribute to raising consumer and market confidence in New Zealand's food.

"It is my expectation the council will also identify current and future trends, risks and issues that may impact on our food safety and assurance system.

"The council will tap into the highest calibre expertise in food safety disciplines with both national and international experience. It will have up to six members skilled in fields such as food regulation, public health, science, business, and international relations.

"While New Zealand's food regulatory system is considered among the best in the world, market demands and expectations are changing rapidly. We need to be one-step ahead if we want to maintain our edge as one of the world's best food producers. This council will be valuable in adding to our knowledge and expertise," Ms Kaye says.

The council will be set up by MPI's Director-General Martyn Dunne and will cover operational, policy, and regulatory issues across New Zealand's entire food safety and assurance regime. It will report to him after each quarterly meeting and provide an annual report to him. MPI has allocated $250,000 per year for the Food Safety Assurance Advisory Council.

"The Director General will keep me informed about the council's work and I will also receive copies of its reports, including the annual report," Ms Kaye says.

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