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NZ may opt out of country of origin labelling

NZ may opt out of country of origin labelling

It is bizarre the New Zealand Government intends to keep fighting mandatory country of origin labelling of food, and may even opt out of any future trans-Tasman agreement on the issue, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said today.

The Government's astonishing stance has been taken in spite of the Australia-New Zealand food policy-setting body announcing this week in a policy directive that it supports mandatory country of origin labelling of food. At present the labelling is mandatory only in Australia, under a temporary arrangement, and voluntary in New Zealand.

Ms Kedgley said she understood our Minister of Food Safety Annette King had voted against this policy directive at the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council meeting in Sydney on Monday.

"Officials have told me that not only did Ms King vote against the policy directive, but that the New Zealand Government intends to keep fighting the introduction of mandatory labelling in this country, and may even opt out of any future joint standard on the issue," Ms Kedgley said.

"It is scandalous our Government is opposing our right to know what is in the food we eat and where it comes from -particularly when New Zealanders eat a greater proportion of imported food per head of population than most OECD countries."

The Ministerial Council said on Monday its support for mandatory labelling was on the grounds of enabling consumers to make informed choices. The Ministerial Council is the policy-making part of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). Policy guidelines, once adopted, will be referred to the standards-development part of FSANZ for a standard to be drawn up, which will then be considered by the Council.

"It is astonishing that our Government has accepted 59 joint food standards, including ones that allow into New Zealand at least 20 genetically engineered food commodities, and irradiated tropical fruit - without so much as a murmur against them. And yet it is now putting up a huge fight against a simple food labelling standard that will enable consumers to know where their food comes from."

The Green Safe Food spokesperson is strongly urging the New Zealand Government to ditch its misguided opposition to country of origin labelling of food, both here and over the ditch.

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