Decision on palm oil labelling delayed until next year

A decision on the compulsory labelling of products containing palm oil, linked to mass deforestation, has been delayed until next year.

A minister from each state, territory and federal government of Australasia, (NZ and Australia) met today to decide whether palm oil labelling legislation would be developed.

In a month, the New Zealand Food Safety Minister will join a trans-Tasman vote on mandatory disclosure of palm oil products in supermarkets. Source: Q+A

Palm oil labelling is currently not required on products sold in New Zealand and Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew was among nine others from Australia at today's meeting in Brisbane.

Ms Goodhew said the forum decided that Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the Food Regulation Standing Committee will prepare a "programme of work" which will be presented at the next meeting in April.

"This programme of work will further investigate labelling approaches, for providing information on sugars and added fats/vegetables oils, as separate issues," she said in a statement.

Anti palm oil campaigners said they were disappointed there was no decision, but were pleased the issue was still being considered. 

Organiser of the Australasian campaign pushing for labelling, Ben Dowdle, earlier told 1 NEWS "we have had over 30,000 postcards presented to Parliament, including 9000 emails".

There have also been 50,000 emails sent to Ministers in Australia, organised by Zoos Victoria, Mr Dowdle said.

He said 92 per cent of Kiwis support the change, according to independent polling. 

Campaigners pushing for a change say New Zealand is lagging behind the US and Europe where palm oil is clearly outlined on food.

The Victorian Government has committed to supporting palm oil labelling. 

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The mystery of the purple orange solved in Brisbane

A sharpened knife has been revealed as the culprit in the mystery of an orange that turned purple in Brisbane earlier this month.

Resident Neti Moffitt asked for an investigation after slices of an orange she cut up for her two-year-old son turned purple hours later.

Pieces he'd sucked on, and uneaten pieces Ms Moffitt had left on the kitchen bench, all turned part-purple.

"It looks like someone's dipped it on an ink pad, which I guarantee you we haven't," Ms Moffitt told the ABC at the time.

A Queensland Health officer took the discoloured orange slices, a knife used to cut it, a sharpener that had been used on it recently and other items for forensic testing.

Scientists have now revealed the discolouration was due to a natural reaction between the fruit and the sharpened knife, the BBC reports. 

Queensland Health's chief chemist, Stewart Carswell, said numerous tests were conducted to determine the cause of the colour change.

The results revealed that anthocyanins - a naturally occurring antioxidant in oranges - had reacted with iron particles from the newly sharpened blade, he said.

"We see samples that range from blood, urine, water, soil, fish and foodstuffs. So to have an orange come through was really different for our team." 

The Queensland government said it had assured the family the orange was not a health risk.

Following the incident, Ms Moffitt found one other case on the internet of an orange turning purple, also in Queensland in 2015, the ABC reported.

A Nine News report at the time had said forensic testing had ruled out artificial colouring, and no iodine was found.

One of the slices of orange that turned purple after being cut open. Source: ABC/ Neti Moffitt

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Two men jailed over fatal beating of Melbourne Airbnb guest who owed rent

An Australian judge sentenced two men to prison today over the fatal beating of their Airbnb guest who owed rent.

The guest, Ramis Jonuzi, 36, was killed at a rented house in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton East on October 25 last year.

Housemates Ryan Charles Smart, 38, and Craig Jonathon Levy, 37, each pleaded guilty in the Victoria state Supreme Court to his manslaughter after murder charges were downgraded.

Smart must serve a minimum six years of a nine-year sentence. Levy was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison and must serve at least 4 1/2 years.

A third housemate, Jason Colton, will stand trial next year for Jonuzi's murder. He faces a potential life sentence in prison if convicted.

Jonuzi had been renting a room in the trio's home through the house-sharing website for a few days and extended his stay to a week.

He was asked to leave the day he died after failing to pay $A210 in owed rent, according to prosecution facts accepted by defense lawyers.

An argument erupted about the unpaid money after Jonuzi packed up to leave. Jonuzi was kicked and punched in the living room until he lost consciousness.

Levy helped carry him outside then used a phone to have Jonuzi check his bank balance and confirm it contained just $6, before the attack continued. Jonuzi cried and apologized as he was beaten.

"For some of the attack, Mr. Jonuzi was unconscious on the ground, for all of it he was helpless," Justice Andrew Tinney said.

A preliminary court hearing in May was told that Levy called police to remove Jonuzi from the house, but officers arrived to find Jonuzi lying face down in chocolate cake in the front yard and with blood around his nose and eyes.

Police could not revive him.

An autopsy found Jonuzi died from "compression of the neck and blunt-force trauma to the head."

Novi Sad, Serbia - March 24, 2016: Close-up of an unrecognizable woman using the Airbnb App on her Lenovo A916 Android smartphone in a car. Login screen with Facebook and Google sign up options. Airbnb is a service for people to list, find, and rent lodging. It currently has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.
Airbnb (file picture). Source: istock.com

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NZ strawberry grower forks out $20,000 for security measures

An Auckland strawberry grower has forked out more than $20,000 for metal detectors, after needle-ridden strawberries were found in New Zealand.

On Sunday, three needles were found in one punnet of Western Australian strawberries at an Auckland supermarket.

It was still unclear where the needles came from.

Australia's strawberry contamination crisis comes just as New Zealand growers are about to put their fruit on the market.

The Zaberri Strawberry farm is just 20 minutes north of Auckland City.

A large silver tin shed sits at the entrance, that's the pack house, and 29 fields lined with rows of strawberry plants surround it.

The farm's owner, who goes by one name, Boman, has run the place for nine years.

In two weeks 150 of his workers will start the harvest.

"We pick [the strawberries] in the early hours of the morning, so ideally we try to have all of our fields picked before... midday, one o'clock and they'll be picked here, and scanned and sent to the packhouse," he said.

Police in Australia have been investigating more than 100 reports of contaminated fruit, many of which are believed to be hoaxes and copycat incidents.

And every Australian strawberry now has to pass through a metal detector before it can be exported.

The same regulations have not been imposed on the 150 New Zealand growers - but Boman was not taking any risks.

"So, we've invested in metal detectors, which will be installed here before our season starts and everything that's been picked and packed will be examined.

"We'll be adding additional surveillance cameras to capture everything that goes in and out of our cool stores," he said.

Despite spending more than $20,000 on the new security measures, Boman is certain the strawberry sabotage crisis won't happen here.

"Some might think that it's over the top, but I think it is better to be ready to ensure our industry is not put into a chaos like what's happened in Australia," he said.

It's a crucial time for strawberry growers - the harvest season has already started for some and it's about to start for others.

The Australian industry, worth about $AU130 million annually, was hit at the start of its season.

The scare prompted product recalls and forced growers to destroy their crops.

If the situation here reaches the same level, the $35m New Zealand industry will be hit hard, Boman said.

"It'll have a significant impact on our financial ability going forward, and not just for us, I think right across, from the growers mainly, retailers will be affected and there will be many employees.

"We've got people here whose whole family relies on them."

The maximum penalty for contaminating food in New Zealand is ten years' imprisonment.

By Katie Scotcher

rnz.co.nz

Strawberry grower Boman
Strawberry grower Boman. Source: rnz.co.nz


All Blacks legend Richie McCaw shares his top tips for success with young leaders

There's no question that plenty of kids look up to Richie McCaw and dream of the kind of success he's had.

So, you can imagine how stoked 800 odd secondary students were today when the man himself shared his own leadership lessons at the Kids with Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp asked him what his top tips were for kids.

Tip 1:

"The first one that I really live by is that you can't go past hard work, if you think it's going to be easy, if you achieve it when it's easy you're probably not going to get the satisfaction of what it's all about."

Tip 2:

"Attention to detail, understanding of what it takes as not everyone knows, asking for advice or asking for help from people around you who can see things from a different way."

Tip 3:

"You got to have that drive. It's not someone telling you that you've got to work hard, you've got to really want to do it yourself and I think the people who have that are the most successful."

All advice that will help McCaw in perhaps his biggest challenge of all, becoming a dad.

McCaw spoke at the Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland. Source: Seven Sharp


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