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Survey Shows Consumers Want Better Food Labelling

28 May 2006

Survey Shows Consumers Want Better Food Labelling

There is overwhelming support amongst consumers for better GE labelling and for country of origin labelling according to a survey conducted by independent research company ConsumerLink for the Green Party.

Greens Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says the survey showed that 84 percent of recipients want all GE ingredients in food declared on a label; 81 percent want food labels to tell them whether the product was imported or not, and 71 percent said egg cartons should advise whether the hens had been kept in battery cages.

"The results indicate strong public support for the labelling provisions in my Consumer Right to Know (Food Information) Bill, which comes before Parliament in mid-June. The bill would require mandatory country of origin labelling; all GE ingredients to be declared in food and eggs to identify whether they have been produced from free range, barn raised or caged hens.

"People are becoming more concerned about what's in their food and where it comes from, and they want better and more informative food labels. Consumers have a right to have this information so they can make informed choices, but our present labelling laws don't require producers to provide this information.

"At present, the absence of any requirement to label GE-derived ingredients in food means it's almost impossible for a consumer to work out which foods contain GE ingredients and avoid them if they wish. Similarly, without country of origin labelling consumers don't know if their tomatoes or ham or other products have come from the other side of the world or from New Zealand.

"Europe already has these labelling requirements and its time we had them too," Ms Kedgley says.

There would be a two year phase in period for the new labelling requirements in the bill, and they would not be costly or onerous for producers to introduce them.

"It's easy to put in-store labelling indicating where food comes from, and the new requirement to label GE ingredients would only apply to the dozen or so companies that have not removed GE ingredients in their products, Ms Kedgley said.

"This Bill could be an important piece of consumer legislation and I hope MPs will recognise the strong public support for better labelling. It has already got the support of at least 14 organisations, including the Parents Centre, Greenpeace, SAFE, the Safe Food Campaign, GE Free New Zealand and the SPCA.

Green Party ConsumerLink questions:

Q1. Eggs from hens kept in battery cages should be labelled
YES 71%
NO 21%
Don't Know 9%

Q2. GE ingredients in food should be declared on a label
YES 84%
NO 11%
Don't Know 5%

Q3. Food items should be clearly labelled as to whether imported
YES 81%
NO 15%
Don't Know 4%


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