WELLINGTON, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government Wednesday pledged to tighten its food safe regime, despite claiming it is already one of the best in the world, in line with the recommendations in a report on August's false global alarm over contaminated dairy products.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye released the report on the first stage of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident and said the government accepted in principle all 29 recommendations.
"This part of the inquiry focused on our dairy food safety system and we are pleased to confirm it found the whey protein concentrate (WPC) incident in August this year was not the result of any failure in the regulatory system," Guy said in a statement.
"The inquiry report finds New Zealand's food safety regulatory model is consistent with international principles and is among the best in the world," Kaye said.
The finding was of fundamental importance to reassure the country's export markets, the statement said.
"Exports to China have trebled since 2007. On top of that, food safety requirements and systems are continuing to evolve," Guy said.
"New Zealand's export performance depends heavily on the success of the dairy sector and we are committed to ensuring its underpinning food safety system remains world-leading."
The government would allocate between 8 million and 12 million NZ dollars (6.63 million and 9.94 million U.S. dollars) a year on the key recommendations:
-- Strengthening capability in emerging export markets, particularly China, with additional personnel.
-- Establishing a centre of food safety science and research, bringing together New Zealand government agencies and research organizations.
-- Increasing dairy processing and regulatory capability.
-- Establishing a food safety and assurance advisory council to provide independent advice and risk analysis.
-- Fast-tracking work to consolidate and simplify legislation and regulations.
The government set up the inquiry into the causes and handling of a global food recall after a batch of whey protein concentrate made by dairy giant Fonterra was wrongly identified as being tainted by a bacterium that cause botulism. Another part of the inquiry is to look at the question of what happened and the regulator's response.
The country's Federated Farmers organization said the report highlighted the need for a stronger food safety system and a stronger understanding of the country's export markets.
"If our dairy industry is to continue to go from strength to strength, we need to invest more into the framework of how we operate here and overseas. As we diversify into foreign markets, we need people that understand them," Federated Farmers dairy chairperson Willy Leferink said in a statement.
However, the main opposition Labor Party said the report found the government's cost cutting in food safety was to blame for the Fonterra botulism scare, after food safety and biosecurity agencies, and the ministries of agriculture and fisheries were rolled into a "super ministry", the Ministry for Primary Industries, in 2012.
"It has also highlighted a shortage of experienced staff at all levels of the ministry, a loss of scientific staff and few workers with significant experience in the dairy industry," Labor primary industries spokesperson Damien O'Connor said in a statement.
"MPI dropped the ball on food safety and New Zealand's international reputation has been permanently damaged."
More warnings issued over NZ milk scare; Fonterra apologizes
BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- China's consumer quality watchdog issued a warning Monday morning over two potentially tainted New Zealand-made Karicare-brand infant formula products because of botulism concerns.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) issued a consumer alert after receiving a warning notice from the New Zealand Embassy in China at midnight Sunday. Full story