24 Apr 2014

New food safety council set up

4:10 pm on 24 April 2014

The Government has established a new food safety council to give it independent advice on food safety and risks.

Nikki Kaye.

Nikki Kaye. Photo: SUPPLIED

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said the new six member Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council would provide high level and independent advice to the Government.

She said at the moment there is no independent group looking at the whole food safety system.

The Green Party said that's because the government deliberately removed the independence of the Food Safety Authority when it merged it with the Ministry for Primary Industries' predecessor, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The Greens said the new council will be set up by, and report to, the Ministry for Primary Industries and primary industries spokesperson Steffan Browning questioned how it can be independent.

"The claim for independence beggars belief because MPI are to set it up, we assume MPI are selecting the members of the small council. And not only that, they report back to MPI," Mr Browning said.

Steffan Browning.

Steffan Browning. Photo: Supplied

"We need some absolute independent look at food safety in New Zealand, totally independent."

Mr Browning believes the Government is trying to appease the Chinese by setting up the new council.

Ms Kaye said the Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council has been set up to provide the Government with high level independent advice.

"It will be independent because we'll have high calibre individuals who will effectively provide reports to the director general. They'll be able to put whatever they want in those reports so there will be independence in terms of their work."