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Last week's discovery of a Queensland fruit fly in Auckland should not be a catalyst for irradiation of staple produce such as tomatoes, yet this is exactly what is happening, the Green Party said today.
"The Government should strengthen our biosecurity resources instead of investing in irradiation of produce that will end up on New Zealand shelves," said Green Party spokesperson for biosecurity and customs Steffan Browning.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand has announced that it is assessing an application by Queensland authorities to irradiate tomatoes and capsicums. Queensland is a major supplier of such produce to New Zealand. This announcement comes just days after a single Queensland fruit fly was found in Auckland.
"Labelling is mandatory for irradiated produce, despite proponents claiming that it is totally safe.
"We know that irradiation destroys Vitamin C and depletes other nutrients in fruit and vegetables, which is why the only produce we see in New Zealand supermarkets with irradiation labels are exotic imports such as lychees, persimmons and papayas.
"We do not need or want irradiated tomatoes or capsicums from Queensland.
"We are opposed to the irradiation of all foods, and poor labelling does not assist matters," Mr Browning added.
Labelling standards currently require irradiation symbols to be 'in close proximity' to produce being sold, rather than printed on packaging or attached to individual fruit or vegetables.