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    Safe Food Campaign
    Media release: 27 July 2004

    Lead in cornflour
    country of origin labelling needed

    Consumers have a right to know where food products come from and baby food should not be allowed to contain any contaminants, the Safe Food Campaign maintains. The recent discovery by the Food Safety Authority that baby food and several other products containing cornflour had excessive levels of lead highlights these issues.

    "A consumer buying baby food would have had no idea before this that some of the ingredients come from a country other than New Zealand," says Ms White, Co-convenor of the Safe Food Campaign. "We urge Food Standards Australia New Zealand to implement labelling which makes it compulsory to declare where products in food products come from."

    "The consumer has a basic right to know not only where a food product comes from but also what is in the food," states Ms White. Unfortunately this right to know is not currently enshrined in law. The Safe Food Campaign endorses Sue Kedgley's Consumer Right to Know Bill, currently in the parliamentary ballot system, which seeks to rectify this situation. "While we applaud the fact that the Food Safety Authority has named and recalled some products found with excessive lead, all products tested should be named and their results should be made public"

    Any level of lead or other bioaccumulative substances such as dioxin or DDT in food destined for young children is a concern. The dangers of lead for the developing brain are well documented, with possible irreversible damage to the nervous system and brain. In addition, research shows that children absorb around 50% of lead in food, whereas adults absorb only 8-15%. As well, children do not get rid of lead so easily: the half-life in adults is 36 days but in children it is 10 months.

    "We should have legislation similar to that in other countries that does not allow any detectable contaminants in baby food, whether they are heavy metals or pesticides," commented Ms White. Results from the Second Quarterly Report of the Total Diet Survey released by the Food Safety Authority revealed that two pesticides were detected in baby food. One of these, the fungicide iprodione, is a suspect 'gender-bender' or hormone disruptor and also a carcinogen. "Recent research questions whether any safe level can be established for endocrine disruptors, especially when we consider young children and babies in the womb," adds Ms White.

    In the meantime Ms White advises parents of young children and pregnant women to seek out organic food.

    For more information phone Alison White, Co-convenor Safe Food Campaign,
    (04) 476 8607 or (021) 1699 120. or see The Contact Page

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