Food origin labelling bill passes first hurdle

A Bill requiring country of origin labelling for single component foods, such as fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, has passed its first reading in Parliament.

The Green Party’s Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill passed its reading 12 April and applies to fresh produce, meat, fish and other single component foods such as grains, nuts, bulk flour and oil.

According to the bill’s digest, its purpose is “to provide a simple, mandatory labelling system in New Zealand that provides consumers with accurate information about the country of origin of single component foods to enable them to make informed food purchasing decisions”.

“Many consumers assume, in the absence of country of origin labelling, that traditional foods such as meat, fruit, fish, and vegetables are produced in New Zealand. In this situation the lack of country of origin labelling can be regarded as misleading and deceptive,” the digest says.

While country of origin isn’t currently compulsory in New Zealand, any packaging that does state where the product was made must be true, not misleading and capable of being substantiated (Healthy Food Guide, October 2016).

According to Horticulture New Zealand, more than 70 per cent of New Zealanders want mandatory country of origin labelling for fresh fruit and vegetables.

National, Labour, New Zealand First, United Future and the Maori and Green parties all voted in favour of the first reading. The Act party voted against.

Public submissions have been invited on the bill and the closing date is midnight, 18 May 2017.

Make a submission here.

Related link: Country-of-origin labelling

First published: May 2017

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