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False info calls food label system into question

12 May 2008

False info calls food labelling system into question: Greens

The extent of inaccurate and false information of food labels calls into question the credibility of the entire food labelling system, following research which shows that nearly 58 percent of food samples tested showed inaccurate information on nutrient levels, Green Party Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"Consumers can have no confidence in the accuracy of food labels, following the results of this ESR survey," Ms Kedgley says.

"Consumers have a right to accurate information about what is in their food, and how it's been produced. The latest survey shows that the Fair Trading Act is being routinely breached and consumers given false and inaccurate information about what is in their food.

"It appears that labels have become little more than a marketing tool for food producers, rather than a way of imparting accurate information to consumers. This is a serious concern."

Ms Kedgley says the survey shows an urgent need for a monitoring system to verify claims made on labels: "Unless consumers can rely on the accuracy of claims made on labels, the labelling system is meaningless and worse, gives false information to consumers."

The survey shows that while some products contained less nutrients than claimed, others had more. Both situations carry health risks.

Ms Kedgley calls for a crackdown on such misleading information and is demanding immediate answers from the Food Safety Minister.

"Poor nutrition and an unhealthy food environment are the most significant causes of preventable deaths in New Zealand so it is vital that consumers know exactly what is contained in food products so they can make informed purchasing decisions.

"The need for accurate, truthful and meaningful food labelling is recognised by all the major national and international food standard setting agencies including the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and the joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission."

ENDS

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