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Food expert warns on hormones in Australian produce

19 June, 2009

Some Australian produce contains dangerous levels of hormones and pesticides, an international food safety expert says.

Canadian microbiologist Shiv Chopra says potentially harmful antibiotics, cancer-causing hormones and slaughterhouse waste have entered Australia's food supply.

He claims there's a stark difference between locally-produced crops and meat consumed by Australians, and those which are exported.

"Australia and New Zealand are producing two types of products," Dr Chopra said at a media conference in Sydney organised by the NSW Greens.

"(Those) they can sell to the standards of the European Union and the not-so-good products they are consuming at home. This is a disastrous situation."

However, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) chief scientist Paul Brent defended the nation's food production industry.

"There's no hormones in food in Australia," Dr Brent said.

"In animals, the only antibiotics that are allowed to be used are for veterinary use."

Greens MP Ian Cohen believes NSW faces a "huge health problem" due to the low quality foods sold in supermarkets.

"Dr Chopra's visit reminds us that we cannot rely on government and its agencies to keep our food supply safe," he said.

FSANZ was also failing to properly label genetically modified foods, Cohen said.

But Dr Brent said Australian labelling was appropriate.

"Our (labelling) regime is not as strict as in Europe, but its stricter than Canada and the US," he said.

"We would have a reasonable balance."

Source: AAP NewsWire

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