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Organic Labelling Proposal

Media Release
8 June 2000

Organic Labelling Proposal

A proposal to establish an interim consumer information standard for organic products was announced by Consumer Affairs Minister Phillida Bunkle in the Hawke's Bay today.

Ms Bunkle is visiting organic producers and retailers around the country and today she initiated discussion on an organics standard with organic operations in the Hawke's Bay. The standard is one of several options being considered in the food labelling area, and would need extensive consultation, she said.

"At the Organics 2020 conference in Auckland recently, delegates called for joint action from myself and Minister of Agriculture Jim Sutton. Organic production is a vastly growing industry and it is vital we get a base definition right if the industry is to further develop.

"Concerns have also been raised about producers misrepresenting the organic claim and I personally want to see organic frauds eliminated. A consumer information standard under the Fair Trading Act would prohibit misleading claims where products are not organically produced.

"The standard would ideally spell out what producers must tell the consumer when labelling organic products. There will of course need to be much discussion about how we define 'organic' and how producers and interest groups feel about it."

Ms Bunkle said discussion on the proposal would be done in conjunction with other initiatives such as an Australia-New Zealand food labelling scheme and a joint departmental and industry organics working party including the Consumer Affairs and Agriculture ministries. An interim consumer information standard will provide consumers with protection while the working party works on establishing a national organics standard.

"Organic production is a vital part of sustainable development for regions like the Hawke's Bay and Gisborne.

"An information standard would effectively maintain credibility of the organics industry. It adds to a regulatory base that gives further confidence to consumers, and endorses the confidence we have in our organic exports," she said.


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