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New Zealand prepares to tighten infant formula export regime
Last Updated: 2014-07-09 16:13 | Xinhua
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The New Zealand government on Wednesday unveiled proposals to tighten regulations on infant formula exports as it seeks to reassure China and other major markets of its food safety standards.

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said the government is opening up proposals on labeling and export monitoring to public consultation, closing on Aug. 20, and further proposals on specifications for infant formula manufacturing standards will be released later this month.

"Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity," Kaye said in a statement.

The first of the proposals will apply to all exporters of infant formula and all those who manufacture or process, transport, pack or store infant formula.

It will mean all retail-ready formula has full electronic traceability and is tracked from each premise, and will include a requirement for all exporters to identify a party accountable for recall in the importing country, Kaye said.

The second proposal is a draft labelling notice, setting out the information that must be included, and information that is voluntary.

"New Zealand's reputation around the world as a leading producer of safe and trusted food is extremely important to our competitive advantage as exporters," Kaye said.

The proposals take account of international standards and the evolving regulatory requirements in countries such as the United States and China, and will apply to exports of infant formula to all countries, she said.

New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries began its first ever register of infant formula brands in June last year, so that Chinese consumers and authorities could check whether formulas carrying New Zealand labels were valid.

The register required companies exporting to China to have the specific brand name included on the export certificate.

Kaye had asked the ministry to undertake an audit of infant formula manufacturing, testing and safety regimes after concerns raised in China about the reliability of some brands and products appearing in the Chinese market, and as Chinese authorities conducted their own investigations into infant formula companies.

Last year, New Zealand's infant formula exports were estimated at about 600 million NZ dollars (538.07 million U.S. dollars) a year, with approximately 170 million NZ dollars (149.62 million U. S. dollars) of that going to China.

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