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Labels keep consumers in the dark

Greens survey shows labels keep consumers in the dark

A Green Party supermarket survey of 450 food items has highlighted the urgent need for improved labelling, Green MP Sue Kedgley says.

The survey found that GE ingredients in food are not declared on labels; that there is no indication of where most fresh items such as meat come from and that many labels are misleading or confusing.

"Consumers rely on labels to inform them what is in the food they eat and where it comes from. But our survey found that food labels conceal vital information from consumers. They don't tell us whether our food contains GE ingredients, and most don't identify clearly where it comes from or how it's been produced."

Many of the labels were also misleading, for example promoting in large letters that the product is made by a New Zealand company when the small print indicates that all the ingredients come from China or Thailand, Ms Kedgley says.

"We import thousands of tonnes of meat into New Zealand each year, yet we couldn't find one label indicating it contained imported meat. We surveyed 196 products made by companies that may use GE derived ingredients like oils in their food, or meat from animals fed GE grains. Yet not one declared that it did so.

"The survey highlights the need for Parliament to adopt my Consumer Right to Know (Food Information) Bill which has just been selected from the ballot. It would guarantee consumers the right to know what is in their food and where it comes from."

"Consumers in other countries already have this information. In Europe GE-derived ingredients have to be declared on a label, whereas most don't have to be declared in New Zealand. Most countries also require the country of origin of food to be declared - but not here.

For example, last year 27,000 tonnes of pork were imported into New Zealand, but there's no way of working out where all that imported meat had gone to, she says.

My Bill would require food producers to declare where food comes from, whether it contains GE ingredients, method of production for eggs, whether fish is wild caught or farmed. It would also make the New Zealand Food Safety Authority be more open about which foods have been found to be tainted with contaminants.

"Consumers have a right to know what's in their food and where it comes from. My Bill would finally give them that right," Ms Kedgley said.


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