Food manufacturers are upping the ante when it comes to using the Health Star Ratings systems on food labels, Minister for Food Safety David Bennett says.
“The Ministry for Primary Industries is reporting as at 31 March 2017 about 2700 packaged food products with Health Star Ratings were available to New Zealand consumers,” Mr Bennett says.
“That number is a significant increase on a survey done only a year before that showed 807 products on shop shelves with Health Star Ratings.
“The decision to work with industry to introduce the system voluntarily means costs are being kept down, both for producers and people buying the products.
“This jump follows a large increase in consumer awareness and understanding of the system. A survey published by MPI shows that more than 60 per cent of consumers are aware of Health Star Ratings.
“About 50 per cent of consumers have a correct understanding of how the system works.”
Health Star Ratings are an independent rating system developed by the New Zealand and Australian governments in collaboration with public health experts, the food industry and consumer groups. Packaged foods are given a number of stars based on their nutrients, ingredients and the amount of energy (kilojoules) they provide, so consumers can compare similar products to see which is healthier.
“Health Star Ratings were only introduced in 2014. We are delighted to see the food industry embracing them as a useful tool to inform consumers about their products.”
“Not only that, some companies have improved their products to make them healthier and to get a higher star rating.
“Consumers too are showing they understand what the Health Star Ratings are for, and that they can use the system to select a healthier food option, based on the number of stars on the package,” Mr Bennett says.
More information can be found at: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/whats-in-our-food/food-labelling/health-star-ratings/
The House of Representatives passed the Racing Amendments’ Bill through its first reading tonight, during the final sitting week before the election.
The Bill has been referred to the Primary Production Committee.
“It’s a day of celebration for the racing industry as we take another step forward to getting money back into the New Zealand community,” Minister for Racing David Bennett says.
“I would like to acknowledge all those who have worked so hard to get us to this position, especially the New Zealand Racing Board, its chair, the venerable Glenda Hughes, and its chief executive, John Allen.”
The Bill modernises racing and sports betting in New Zealand, amending the Racing Act 2003. It seeks to return money into New Zealand through information and consumption charges from offshore betting operators.
An information charge seeks money from offshore operators taking bets on New Zealand racing and sporting events. A consumption charge seeks money from offshore operators taking bets from people living in New Zealand.
“The Racing Amendments’ Bill will also enable in-race betting, and will allow the New Zealand Racing Board to offer betting on a wider range of sports – which may soon include politics if the last month is anything to go by.”
“The broad cross-party support for the Bill recognises the importance so many people place on the collection of betting charges. Those charges will be used to assist the racing industry and other sports bodies to reinvest in their codes,” Mr Bennett says.
The Bill is available at:
Note to editors:The New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB), which operates the TAB, is the only provider of racing and sports betting that is authorised in New Zealand. When people bet with the TAB here in New Zealand, the NZRB distributes profits to New Zealand’s racing and sports organisations. It also helps to fund services that address gambling harm. New Zealanders can bet with offshore websites but, unlike the NZRB, the operators of those websites do not contribute any money back to this country.
A project which redesigns and streamlines food safety requirements under the Animal Products Act 1999 is underway, Minister for Food Safety David Bennett says.
“This project is to make the rules easier to understand and more accessible for businesses than the current state of play. We want our food safety system to be fit for purpose,” Mr Bennett says.
The MPI run project will consider consolidating and simplifying 41 regulations under the Animal Products Act 1999.
“We have a world class food safety system, and to ensure it remains amongst the best in the world we are continuously looking at ways we can improve.
“Industry feedback told us streamlining notices and regulations would help them run their businesses more efficiently, with a greater understanding of expectations keeping their customers.”
The redesign is on the back of a Government inquiry which recommended some changes to further strengthen New Zealand’s food safety system.
Targeted industry workshops have will gather feedback to better understand what is working and what is not
Once the workshops have been completed, MPI will develop proposals for changes to the regulations and notices, which will be publically consulted on.
“We are continuously trying to find ways to make it easier for people to achieve and go beyond the world class food safety system.
“So, it is great to support progress which helps them, while continuing to protect and promote New Zealanders health and produce,” Mr Bennett says.
The operation of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 review has been kick-started with the release of a discussion document, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs David Bennett says.
The document, which asks people how they think the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 is working, has been released as part of the consultation process of the Review. “This legislation has been is a central part of a $60 million package for Veterans,” Mr Bennett says. “We need to see how the operation of the Act could be improved and what needs to be changed. “It’s important that we get it right when we are investing in those who fought for the freedoms New Zealand experiences, so we can ensure Veterans’ have the services they deserve. “I encourage everyone who has an interest to take this opportunity to have their say,” Mr Bennett says. The Review is a legal requirement for the Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force under the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 and is being independently led by Professor Ron Paterson. The Review is expected to be completed, and a report provided, by the end of 2017. “I have released this discussion document early in the Review process, to give people as much time as possible to think about how the Veterans’ Support Act is working for them”, Professor Paterson says. Submissions on the discussion document are due by 15 September 2017. Consultation meetings will be held in Whāngārei, Auckland, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill in August and September. Information about the independent review, consultation process and discussion document can be found on the New Zealand Defence Force website www.nzdf.mil.nz/corporate-documents/vsa “I’m looking forward to meeting as many veterans and their families as possible at the consultation meetings. They have served our country and the Veterans’ Support Act is there to provide the support and rehabilitation they need as a result of their service,” Professor Paterson says. “We don’t often get the opportunity, so soon after new legislation comes into effect, to independently review how it is working,” Professor Paterson says.
Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and Food Safety Minister David Bennett today launched the finalised New Zealand action plan to address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
“Scientists, governments and international agencies are united in the approach to combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance,” says Dr Coleman.
“The New Zealand Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan, released today, will underpin our efforts to ensure that antimicrobials are managed carefully.
“The action plan was finalised following its presentation at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva and is ready for implementation in New Zealand.
“The five key objectives in the plan align with international efforts and ensure that New Zealand is playing its part in the global response.
“We want medicines to remain effective for treating infections in humans, as well as managing diseases in animals and plants.”
“The Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries have worked together on this action plan because resistant microbes arising in humans, animals or the environment impact each other,” says Mr Bennett.
“As a major food producer, New Zealand must manage antimicrobial resistance in animals and plants effectively.
“This action plan shows that New Zealand understands the multisectoral issue of antimicrobial resistance and is addressing it in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization and World Organisation for Animal Health.”
A range of strategies will be used over the next five years to manage the threat of antimicrobial resistance. Implementation of the plan will involve a wide range of partners and will be jointly governed by the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries.
The plan is focussed on surveillance and monitoring activities, as well as regulatory oversight of the use of antimicrobials in animals and plants. It will also look to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance and improve infection prevention and control.
Notes to editors:
The action plan has five key objectives; in alignment with the World Health Organization global response:Awareness and understanding: Improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training. Surveillance and research: Strengthen the knowledge and evidence base about antimicrobial resistance through surveillance and research. Infection prevention and control: Improve infection prevention and control measures across human health and animal care settings to prevent infection and the transmission of micro-organisms. Antimicrobial stewardship: Optimise the use of antimicrobial medicines in human health, animal health and agriculture, including by maintaining and enhancing the regulation of animal and agriculture antimicrobials. Governance, collaboration and investment: Establish and support clear governance, collaboration and investment arrangements for a sustainable approach to countering antimicrobial resistance.
Antimicrobial resistance is where microorganisms that cause infections in humans, animals and plants become resistant to antibiotic, antiviral, anti-parasitic and antifungal medications.
A key risk from increased antimicrobial resistance is that people will needlessly die from infections and diseases that we are currently able to treat with medications.
Minister for Racing David Bennett has introduced the Racing Amendment Bill into Parliament.
The Bill modernises racing and sports betting in New Zealand, amending the Racing Act 2003.
“These changes make it possible to get a return for the information received from betting on New Zealand events and also bets placed by New Zealanders,” Mr Bennett says.
This Bill seeks to return money into New Zealand through information and consumption charges from offshore betting operators.
An information charge seeks money from offshore operators taking bets on New Zealand racing and sporting events.
A consumption charge seeks money from offshore operators taking bets from people living in New Zealand.
“The Racing Amendment Bill will also enable in-race betting, bringing it into line with in-play betting for sports and will allow the New Zealand Racing Board to offer betting on a wider range of sports” Mr Bennett says.
The proposals in the Racing Amendment Bill stem from a review undertaken by the Offshore Racing and Sports Betting Working Group in 2015.
Mr Bennett thanked the Working Group and all those that made submissions on proposals to amend the Act.
“I welcome this advancement in collection of betting charges that can be used to assist the racing industry and other sports bodies are these bets,” Mr Bennett says.
The Bill is available at:
Note to editors:
· The New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB), which operates the TAB, is the only provider of racing and sports betting that is authorised in New Zealand. When people bet with the TAB here in New Zealand, the NZRB distributes profits to New Zealand’s racing and sports organisations. It also helps to fund services that address gambling harm.
· New Zealanders can bet with offshore websites but, unlike the NZRB, the operators of those websites do not contribute any money back to this country.
Minister for Food Safety David Bennett met with Dr Penny Lukito, the chairwoman of Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) this morning.
BPOM is one of Indonesia’s five main regulators for food safety, animal health, and plant health.
It is responsible for the regulation and product safety testing of all processed foods, both domestic and imported.
“Meetings like this are important to ensuring that both agencies are aware of the goals each are working towards within their country’s food safety systems, a key tool underpinning agricultural trade,” Mr Bennett says.
BPOM and Ministry for Primary Industries signed a Food Safety Agreement in 2014 which promotes cooperation on food safety, particularly as it relates to management of risk and trade in processed food products.
“Indonesia’s demand for imported food with changing dietary habits, including milk, yoghurt, red meat, cheese and baby foods.
“New Zealand needs to have a good working relationship on all levels, but especially at a food safety level to ensure we can meet their needs, and expand our export markets.
“Next year will mark 60 years of diplomatic relationships with the two countries and it’s always positive to continue to solidify the relationship,” Mr Bennett says
Photo: Minister Bennett with Dr Lukito this morning.
Race courses can harness safety with the $1 million Racing Safety Development Fund, the Minister for Racing David Bennett has announced.
Applications for the fund, which has been operating for ten years, opens on 2 August, with the money divvied out over two funding rounds.
“Racecourses are an important part of communities across New Zealand, so it’s important we help ensure the health and safety aspects,” Mr Bennett says.
“The fund benefits clubs and racing bodies across the country.
“Projects have included improvements for safety running rails, irrigation and drainage, lighting upgrades, and grandstand repairs,” Mr Bennett says.
“This includes the health and safety of the racing animals, riders, spectators, officials, and others involved in racing,” he says.
“All racing clubs and racing code bodies consider the condition and standard of their facilities and equipment, and assess whether they are safe for animals, staff, and customers.”
All racing clubs and code bodies may apply for funding. New Zealand has about 150 active racing clubs and 70 racecourses. The Development Fund covers up to half the costs of a project with between $7,500 – and $50,000 funding being available for each project.
On-line applications must be submitted by 27 September 2017.
Further information is available from: www.communitymatters.govt.nz
Thank you Mark, for your introduction and thank you Agcarm, for the invitation to join the 70th Annual Conference. It is a pleasure to be here.
Let me acknowledge Kirk Hope, Business NZ’s chief executive, Sir Mark Soloman - Canterbury District Health Board’s chairman, Dr Helen Darling, the director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity, and Mike Chapman – HortNZ’s chief executive.
Thank you to your President, Mark Christie, the representatives on your Board and your Chief Executive, Mark Ross.
Agricultural compounds and veterinary medicines, or ACVM, play an important role. Their use is essential to address animal welfare and to produce safe and suitable food we can sell with confidence in New Zealand and overseas.
Farmers and food producers around New Zealand depend on them to:improve the quantity and quality of their produce; keep people, animals and crops healthy; and reduce the spread of diseases, weeds, parasites and other pests.
This conference is about discovering, discussing and advocating for the plant and animal science industries. It is a credit to New Zealand that Agcarm has existed for the past 70 years. It is a vitally important component to our agricultural industry which at $37 billion export value, is the engine room of New Zealand’s economy.
ACVM is a key tool in propelling this industry forward. And you are all a part of ensuring we are at the forefront of world-wide innovation.
In the Food Safety sector we embrace science and technology like ACVM. Tools like ACVM, and strong regulations allow New Zealand to have one of the best food safety systems in the world. Strong regulations are imperative for our trading partners to trust in New Zealand and its produce. It’s important to capitalise on the trust, and encourage producers and exporters to take tools, like traceability, and start using them in conjunction with intangibles as the ultimate value add. We need to draw on aspects, like New Zealand’s clean, green and pure image to get premium price for our high quality exports.
All primary industry sectors - and the public - recognise the importance of having regulatory oversight of the ACVM products in use by farmers and growers.
Appropriate regulation ensures ACVM products are effective, while ensuring there is no harm to people, animals, plants and the environment. It also ensures any residues that occur in food are not a food safety concern.
But the regulation of the ACVM system needs to be balanced:an under-regulated industry could jeopardise the credibility of our systems and our food safety reputation which are essential for our consumers and trading partners’ confidence. an overly prescriptive framework could stifle innovation, resulting in fewer options to manage pests and disease, reduced investment in research and development and higher costs to produce food.
Our current regulatory system works well, aligns with international standards and is highly regarded by our trading partners. But to remain at the forefront, we must take every opportunity to make improvements to ensure we have the balance right.
The government is making it easier for companies to bring innovative agricultural products to the New Zealand market.
We have recently changed the law to extend data protection arrangements. This is in recognition that developing the data required to register a product can be costly. With greater certainty about being able to recoup costs, businesses are more likely to invest in research and register new products or new uses in New Zealand.
We encourage industry to make use these of these extended protections. In particular, to help bring new innovative products for use on our minor crops and minor animal species.
MPI is nearing completion of a review of their ACVM registration processes to help simplify the process for business and improve timeframes and risk management practices. MPI will continue to work proactively with industry to deliver a more efficient and mutually beneficial system.
MPI has identified potential changes to the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (Exemptions and Prohibited Substances) Regulations which could be made in the short-term.
These changes will provide clarity and confidence for manufacturers of products, and provide greater scope for product exemptions. They will also reflect updated knowledge of risk around some product groups.
We encourage Agcarm and their members to get involved at the public consultation stage.
The world in which we operate is continually changing. Greater market emphasis on food safety and the increasing complexity of global supply chains are posing new challenges and opportunities.
Consumers, retailers and trading partners want more information and higher standards around how their food is produced. They want proof of the integrity of products and a full account of every input used.
The Government works hard to ensure our food safety system is one of the best in the world. As well as regulating the use of certain chemicals, we carry out a range of monitoring activities, including regular testing of food.
Our testing results confirm that for the most part, good agricultural practices are being followed in the use of ACVM products. This indicates that current controls conform to both consumer expectations and international regulatory requirements.
These good results are the product of the agriculture chemical industry, government and farmers all working hard to do their bit:Government – in setting the appropriate rules and regulations; ACVM product manufacturers – in the correct manufacturing and labelling of their products; and Farmers – in the correct use of these products.
Advances in chemical and microbiological testing of food are continuously being improved and becoming available to commercial laboratories. MPI is embracing these new technologies.
MPI is also working with multiple international forums, including the Codex Alimentarius Commission, to reinforce sound science as a basis for trade.
The recent session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission endorsed a New Zealand-initiated work proposal to develop an internationally harmonised approach to address chemicals inadvertently present in food at low levels.
Internationally harmonised guidelines will be important to prevent any potential trade issues and enable us to adopt new technologies and innovative farming practices to address the challenges of climate change, sustainable development and protection of the environment.
Scientific breakthroughs and technical advances are creating opportunities for the primary industries to improve the use of ACVM products to support greater environmental management, such as the use of bio-pesticides to improve pest and disease control. They are also creating opportunities to grow new value-add products such as low-THC hemp milk.
The challenge for the New Zealand primary industries will be how they can access these technologies. Agcarm has a critical role to play here.
The Government is supporting the development of new or innovative products
The Government recognises uptake of new technologies may be inhibited by low levels of investment. Therefore, we are investing heavily in long-term innovation programmes in partnership with industry.
MPI and industry have committed investment of around $759 million in 22 programmes through the Primary Growth Partnership. These programmes are creating new products, increasing health and wellbeing of the primary industries workforce and reducing environmental impacts.
MPI and industry are also jointly investing in research to improve food safety through the Food Safety Science and Research Centre, which we launched last year. The Centre has been set up to deliver science and research across the supply and value chains, from farm to plate, in order for New Zealand to continue to ensure the highest levels of food safety.
Biosecurity will be important for the future use of ACVM products. We are working to ensure we retain a strong biosecurity system in New Zealand. This work will include looking at the key issue of how to maintain social licence for the use of products like pesticides, as well as a focus on how to improve the uptake of innovative new tools.
Turning finally to partnership, it’s important to highlight the benefits of cooperation between the Government and the private sector to solve important issues, such as antimicrobial resistance.
My colleague – Dr Jonathan Coleman – Minister of Health, and I, have been working with Ministry of Primary Industries and Ministry of Health to implement the Anti-microbial resistance action plan.
The action plan uses a range of strategies to manage AMR, including surveillance and monitoring activities, and regulatory oversight of antimicrobials in animals and plants. It will also improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance, improve infection prevention and better control the transmission of microorganisms.
The AMR plan was tabled earlier this year at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, and is being released in New Zealand for implementation.
It is a culmination of work from agriculture, human and animal health sectors, addressing infections becoming resistant to antibiotic, antiviral, antiparasitic and antifungal medications after misuse.
As a major food producer and exporter, New Zealand must manage this risk for animals and plants effectively.
The plan is an important and exciting step forward in protecting Kiwis, their livelihoods and addressing a global issue – mircobials becoming resistant to medication,
Thank you Agcarm for your contributions in the management of AMR including your support for the AMR work programme.
Another example is in Bee Health. New Zealand relies on bees. The honey bee is an important pollinator for pastoral, arable and horticulture production. Bees pollinate crops that are worth at least NZ$4.5 billion annually to New Zealand’s economy and our honey exports reached $223 million in 2015.
The Government is committed to better understanding bee health. We have invested $500,000 to conduct the first ever comprehensive three-year survey of bee health in New Zealand. The study will benchmark the prevalence and incidence of viruses, bacteria, fungal spores and parasites in New Zealand apiaries.
This programme is developing new tools for MPI and beekeepers to respond to threats in apiculture.
The Government is taking action to get baseline information on the health of our honey bee colonies. MPI has contracted Landcare Research to annually survey New Zealand's managed honey bee colonies from 2015 to 2017.
A partnership between, Agcarm and Apiculture New Zealand launched a campaign in September 2016 to increase awareness of the importance of keeping bees safe by using agrichemicals responsibly. I commend this and encourage Agcarm to continue in its campaign.
Agcarm is one of the founders of the Agrecovery rural recycling programme established in 2006.
Agrecovery collects unwanted agrichemicals and recycle empty containers and drums. Containers are collected from more than 70 sites across New Zealand.
The brand owners that distribute agrichemical, animal health and dairy hygiene products into the New Zealand market take responsibility for the disposal of these products and their packaging.
Since 2007, more than 1.5 tonnes of plastic containers have been recycled and, since 2009, nearly 100,000 kilograms of chemicals have been recovered. This is an impressive result.
Delivering food that is safe and suitable remains the cornerstone of New Zealand’s food safety system. The Government is continually adapting and strengthening our food safety system to make sure it continues to be amongst the best in the world.
The Government is working hard to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens for business, provide clarity and flexibility in regulations and support innovation and changes from science and technology.
Industry has a big role to play in supporting these objectives and we encourage you to use the extended data protection we have recently provided in the ACVM Act to bring more innovative and sustainable products into New Zealand – particularly for our minor species and minor crops.
Keep working on the product partnership front – your work in rural recovery and recycling of chemicals and in bee health is paying dividends. We look forward to working together further on managing antimicrobial resistance.
Thank you for your ongoing contribution to Government processes. We are committed to continue working with you.
Thank you again for inviting me to speak here this morning. Have an enjoyable and enlightening 70th conference.
There is extra financial support for some veterans and their families coming into effect today, says Minister for Veterans’ Affairs David Bennett.
Veterans receiving lump-sum payments for suffering a service-related permanent impairment and families receiving child care payments for children of a deceased veteran whose death was service-related, under Scheme Two of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 are amongst those seeing an increase on July 1.
“The increase ensures the veteran, or family, is not disadvantaged as living costs increase,” Mr Bennett says.
It applies to all people receiving Scheme Two entitlements under the Veterans Support Act 2014.
Scheme Two provides entitlements for veterans with qualifying operational service performed on or after 1 April 1974, and their partners, children and dependents. It provides entitlements based on those provided by ACC, and Veterans’ Affairs pays a top-up where they are also eligible for ACC cover.
“This increase is about doing what’s right for those who have served New Zealand,” says Mr Bennett.
The following entitlements rise by 2.17 percent in line with the increase in the CPI.Lump sum payment for a veteran with a service-related permanent impairment. The Survivors Grant for a deceased veteran’s spouse/partner, children and dependants, where death was service-related. Child Care payments for children of a deceased veteran where death was service-related.
For those veterans receiving the minimum weekly compensation because they are unable to return to work due to a service-related injury or illness, increase by 1.6 percent in line with the Labour Cost Index.
“Veterans receiving minimum weekly entitlements under scheme two of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 will get around an extra $18 in their pockets a week,” Mr Bennett says.
Note to editors
The rate of Weekly Compensation is based on the veteran’s pre-injury earnings. The minimum rate of Weekly Compensation will increase on 1 July to keep in line with 80% of the average wage.