WELLINGTON, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Revelations that U.S. authorities refused entry to seven New Zealand meat consignments because they failed to meet health standards Thursday prompted fresh allegations that the government's deregulation was harming New Zealand exports.
Opposition politicians seized on a story in the Metro news magazine that claimed the meat consignments had failed the U.S. " zero fecal requirement" to claim the government's decision to deregulate meat inspection in 2011 had contributed to lower standards.
The main opposition Labor Party demanded an explanation from Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye as to why the Ministry for Primary Industries had "failed to ensure adequate standards of food safety and regulation across all export sectors, especially after meat was left on Chinese wharves last year."
The government's "philosophical approach to deregulation" was exposing one of the largest primary sectors to reputational damage, Labor primary industries spokesperson Damien O'Connor said in a statement.
"Self-regulation has had disastrous consequences across the New Zealand economy, from mining to electricity to health and safety," he said.
The opposition Green Party said concerns about "widespread problems with safety inspections of meat in New Zealand freezing works" had been raised after some meat inspection responsibilities were given to the meat processors themselves.
"This is another example of deregulation letting New Zealanders down," Green Party agriculture spokesperson Steffan Browning said in a statement.
"We need independent safety inspection of our meat, our reputation depends on it."
The Ministry for Primary Industries, which deals with both food safety and food exports, came under fire last year after Chinese authorities temporarily refused entry to New Zealand meat consignments because of incorrect certification documents.