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Country of origin labelling victory

Country of origin labelling victory

Green MP Sue Kedgley is delighted the trans-Tasman food policy body has overruled New Zealand officials and agreed to support mandatory country of origin labelling of food.

New Zealand has been in a long-running dispute with Australia over country of origin labelling of food.

But yesterday, the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council agreed to support mandatory country of origin labelling of food in both countries.

Announcing its policy direction in a communiqué, the council said its support for mandatory labelling was on the grounds of enabling consumers to make informed choices.

Ms Kedgley, Green Safe Food Spokesperson, who has been campaigning for mandatory country of origin labelling of food, said today the Ministerial Council decision was a victory for common sense and consumer rights.

"It is a basic consumer right to know what is in the food we eat and where it comes from," she said. "It is a nonsense that shoppers in New Zealand can buy meat products labelled 'made in New Zealand', without realising that some of the meat may have actually come from overseas.

New Zealand officials and Health Minister Annette King have vehemently opposed mandatory labelling, and called for Australia to abandon its mandatory labelling programme. At present, country of origin labelling of food is mandatory in Australia, but only voluntary in New Zealand.

Ms Kedgley last week lodged a complaint under the Fair Trading Act with the Commerce Commission over the sale of imported meat, fish, and other fresh food in New Zealand without any indication of where it comes from. In her complaint, Ms Kedgley argues that the absence of country of origin labelling on fresh produce including meat and fish is misleading and deceptive, and therefore in breach of the Fair Trading Act.

The Ministerial Council noted in its communiqué that access to information on country of origin was an important factor in consumers making choices. The Ministerial Council is responsible for food policy development in Australia and New Zealand.

Ms Kedgley called on the New Zealand Government to immediately begin implementing mandatory country of origin labelling of food.

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