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NUKU'ALOFA --A spokesman for Tonga's Ministry of Health has denied reports that Tonga and Papua New Guinea top the list of Pacific countries with the greatest concern over consumption of inferior meat and out of date food items imported from New Zealand and Australia.

In an article in the New Zealand Herald newspaper, New Zealand and Australia are accused of dumping their inferior meat products in the Pacific island countries, particularly mutton flaps, Radio Tonga reports.

The spokesman says the accusation may not be true, adding that mutton flaps are a popular and a cheap source of meat to many people in the kingdom. He says the ministry advertised warnings of health problems connected with the consumption of fatty mutton flaps and other meat products, but the decision to buy or not to buy lies with the consumer.

The spokesman says the problem of overstocking by stores is the main reason of out-dated products, and he does not believe they come as expired items from New Zealand and Australia.

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