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Decision is a victory for consumer choice

12 August 2005

Origin of labelling decision is a victory for consumer choice

A proposal by Food Safety Australia-New Zealand (FSANZ) for mandatory country-of-origin labelling of all food, released today, is a victory for consumer choice, the Green Party says.

"FSANZ is proposing to make it mandatory to declare the country of origin on all packaged food and unpackaged fruit, vegetables and nuts, whether fresh or processed," Green Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"If implemented, this proposal will be a victory for consumer choice and for the long running Green Party campaign in favour of country-of-origin labelling.

"Finally, consumers will have the information they need to know where their food comes from, and to make informed choices. At the moment, many New Zealanders are buying unlabelled fresh food such as tomatoes and garlic thinking they come from New Zealand, when in fact they are imported from countries such as China and Australia."

However, Ms Kedgley said she was perplexed as to why the proposal excluded meat and dairy products.

"There is absolutely no justification for this, as consumers are as entitled to know whether their meat comes from New Zealand or China as any other food. We assume their exclusion is a result of the ferocious lobbying by the dairy and meat industries against country of origin labelling."

Ms Kedgley said the Government should declare immediately whether it will support the FSANZ proposal.

"In the past, the Government has vehemently opposed proposals for mandatory country-of-origin labelling. I'm challenging it to front up and tell New Zealanders whether it will accept the new FSANZ standard or seek to opt out of it.

"Only recently, the Minister for Food Safety Annette King reaffirmed publicly her government's opposition to mandatory country of origin labelling of food, taking the patronising position that consumers did not want or need this information.

"We need to know whether the government will accept consumers' right to know what is in the food they eat and where it comes from, or whether it will continue with its incomprehensible opposition to this basic consumer right. Consumers are entitled to know this before the election, so they can know whether the Government supports or undermines consumers' rights," Ms Kedgley said.


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