28 Nov 2007

Tonga public health official dismayed at New Zealand stance on fatty meats export

3:28 pm on 28 November 2007

A top public health official in Tonga says he's dismayed by New Zealand's decision not to ban exports of fatty meat to the Pacific region.

New Zealand's Health Minister, David Cunliffe, has rejected a recommendation from a parliamentary health select committee to phase out or ban the exports for the good of people's health.

It's thought the consumption of cheap, high-fat mutton flaps from New Zealand have contributed to a sharp rise in obesity and diabetes in the Pacific Islands.

Tonga's Chief Medical Officer for Public Health, Dr Malakai Ake, says the decision is disappointing and reveals a double standard.

"Obviously you guys in NZ don't consume it. Maybe you give it to other Pacific Islanders who are there, or even feed them to your dogs. But that's the real fact. They are dumping it to us because they know the health consequences of people consuming this high fat-content meat which is detrimental to the health of the people in the Pacific."

Dr Malakai Ake says Tonga will ask New Zealand to reconsider the decision.

He says banning imports on Tonga's side could contravene free trade agreements.