The New Zealand Food Safety Authority and the Environmental Risk Management Authority need to adopt the European Union method of assessing chemicals used on food the Green Party said today.
The call comes after endosulfan, a chemical banned last year in New Zealand, was found on imported cucumbers this week.
“Europe has the international best practice model for the risk assessment of chemicals — we need to follow their lead,”
Green Party toxics spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.
“The work to ban the pesticide endosulfan took many years and there are hundreds of similar toxic substances still in use in New Zealand.
“Entire classes of chemicals need to be treated with caution and safe alternatives need to be promoted. This will protect human health as well as our food exports to European markets.
The European Union uses a precautionary approach to classes of chemicals which have to be proven non-hazardous before they’re sold. Current New Zealand law means victims of poisoning from chemicals have to prove it is harmful after they’ve been affected.
Ms Delahunty said the European Union’s SIN list (Substitute It Now) of toxic chemicals includes hundreds still in use in New Zealand.
“If we want to stop the use of a toxic chemical in this country we have to prove each individual chemical is dangerous and has already caused harm,” Ms Delahunty said.
“Good food is the basis of good health, We can’t have good healthy food if they’re coated in hazardous chemicals. New Zealand needs to catch up with Europe and modernise our risk assessment model.
“This is an opportunity to protect our export markets and the community and provide safe healthy food for everybody,” Ms Delahunty said.
Substitute It Now list
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/reach_intro.htm