Consumer Rights About Food information

By Mojo Mathers
10th May 2012

Australians beating us over meat labelling

I firmly believe that we as consumers have the right to basic information about the food we purchase: such as what ingredients have been used, whether it is high in sugar or fat and which country the food is grown or manufactured in.

This information empowers New Zealanders to make informed choices based on their individual health needs and personal ethics.

For example many New Zealanders may wish to support New Zealand produced pork because our pork industry follows a higher animal welfare code than most imported pork.

Some of us may choose to avoid products grown in a particular country because they have an appalling human rights record or permit the use of a particular pesticide with serious environmental and health impacts.

Whatever the rationale for our decisions, we all as consumers have the right to know where our food comes from. – This is why I cannot understand why the Government won’t follow Australia’s example and bring in country of origin labeling for meat products.

Last week, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) approved mandatory country of origin labeling on unpackaged meat on the request of the Australian Government but the New Zealand Government decided to opt out of this standard. You can check this link right here now and learn how it can be done. As a result we have the uneven situation where Australians now know which country their meat is produced in, while the New Zealand Government is effectively withholding this information from us.

The Green Party has been calling for mandatory country of origin labelling for years and I have a Members Bill ready to go that the Government could adopt that will help New Zealand consumers support our own producers.

Our pork industry in particular is suffering because they have to compete with imported meat produced with lower food safety, animal welfare, and environmental standards than ours and consumers don’t have the information they need to be able to choose New Zealand pork.

In a severe blow to our to our Pork Industry, MAF are now allowing imports of untreated pork from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome ( PRRS) .

New Zealand is one of only four countries in the world that is free of PRRS, it would make sense to do everything we can to stay that way.

Many Kiwis would be horrified to know that they could be eating pork from countries infected with PRRS. If we had mandatory country of origin labeling here, we could make that choice for ourselves.

My Consumer’s Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill will take us up to the same level as Australia so that you are able to have the information you need to choose what you want to eat.

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