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The shellfish known as black gold in New Zealand is not known to be black elsewhere.
Seafood New Zealand has applied to use sodium hydrosulphate to bleach exported paua to make it appear similar to light-fleshed or "blonde" abalone found elsewhere in the world.
Seafood NZ spokesman Don Carson said the practice had been around for many years, and the Food Standards permission would make the practice official.
"Overseas consumers are used to eating white abalone," he said.
"Obviously some of our seafood is further processed than others."
Chief executive of The Paua Industry Council Jeremy Cooper said the council orchestrates how the paua is collected but anything past the collecting of the shellfish is not their territory.
He said recreational paua collectors would sometimes take the black colour out of the flesh with lemon juice and by brushing the flesh, but the commercial entities needed a commercial solution.
However, he said he wished people would be happy to consume paua in it's natural state.
The Food Standards believes the additive is technologically justified and would be safe to eat.
The Food Standards authority is asking for government agencies, public health professionals, industry members and the community to have their say.
It'll accept submissions on the paua colour change until June 27.
- Sophie Ryan of APNZ