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New Zealand is moving to adopt a tougher approach to food safety, following the high-profile Fonterra dairy contamination case that sparked a public debate on regulation and enforcement issues earlier this year.
An independent government-commissioned report on the Fonterra botulism scare, which actually proved to be a false alarm, recommended 29 steps for improving food safety practices in the country. The government has now announced that all of the recommendations have been accepted. These include launching a new food safety research center, equipped with the latest technology for detection and prevention of contamination, as well as expanding inspection teams in key export markets such as China, in a bid to re-establish New Zealand's reputation as a reliable food products manufacturer.
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Still, the report highlights that fact that there are no glaring omissions in New Zealand's food safety regulatory system and that industry practices accepted in the country are in line with the best standards globally. Most of the recommendations in the report were unrelated to the Fonterra case but covered areas of possible future challenges for the industry, the report said. The country will continue to work towards better industry performance, the New Zealand Herald reported.
According to primary industries minister Nathan Guy, dairy exports are a crucial part of New Zealand's exports as a whole and this is one of the reasons why dairy food safety was a top priority for the government.