25 Sep 2013

Meat body offers sulphite reassurance

1:54 pm on 25 September 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is seriously unimpressed with the Ministry for Primary Industries and is accusing it of needlessly scaring the public.

Earlier this month, the ministry announced it had conducted an operation where it inspected Auckland supermarkets and butcheries collecting samples of raw meat for sulphite analysis.

It is illegal to use sulphites on raw meat, as it can cause severe reactions in people who are allergic to them.

The ministry now says all the samples tested positive for sulphites and it is doing further testing before taking enforcement action.

Beef + Lamb chief executive Rod Slater says the ministry is not naming the outlets it took the samples from and is thereby casting suspicion over every meat outlet in Auckland.

He says the organisation has been aware for some time that one or two outlets, particularly in the Auckland area, may be using sulphites and has informed the ministry of its concerns.

"But we're talking in the main about primarily new arrivals in New Zealand who don't necessarily understand our food safety laws and have set up a small shop and away they go."

Mr Slater says the breach is not deliberate, but is made in ignorance.

He says consumers shopping at supermarkets and reputable butchers have nothing to worry about.

Beef + Lamb believes no supermarkets were inspected by the ministry.