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Nats & Labour bar Country of Origin food labelling

26 September 2008

Nats & Labour bar Country of Origin food labelling: Greens

In light of the Chinese infant formula scandal, New Zealanders will be shocked to learn that Labour and National have voted against a 39,000-signature petition calling for mandatory country of origin labelling of fresh and single component food, Green MP Sue Kedgley says.

The Health Select committee released its report today on a Green party petition calling for mandatory country of origin labelling of fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood and other single component foods.

Ms Kedgley, Green Party Food Safety Spokesperson, says the infant formula food safety scandal in China highlights the urgent need for mandatory country of origin labelling so consumers can work out what country food has come from.

"Consumers have an absolute right to know which country food comes from, as well as what ingredients it contains, and to avoid purchasing food from certain countries if they so wish.

"It is clear that the National and Labour parties put the interests of Fonterra and the Meat Board ahead of the right of ordinary consumers to know where their food comes from," Ms Kedgley says.

"National and Labour voted against mandatory country of origin labelling of food on the extraordinary grounds that it might 'restrict the purchasing choice of some consumers' and pose a threat to New Zealand's trading interests.

"The infant formula scare has undermined consumers' confidence in the quality control and food safety systems in place in China, and increased consumers' concerns about the safety of some imported food.

"Most of our trading partners already have mandatory country of origin labelling, and New Zealand is lagging way behind. We have it for footwear and clothing - why on earth would they oppose it for food?

"National and Labour claim they support a free market. But the market can't operate properly unless consumers have sufficient information to make informed purchasing decisions."


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