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Food importers flouting labelling laws

30 September, 2004

Food importers 'systematically' flouting labelling laws

Eighty per cent of imported foods are not properly labelled, an audit by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority has found, Green MP Sue Kedgley said today.

The audit of 160 imported foods, revealed at the Food Safety Authority's national conference yesterday, found that some did not even have basic information like a use-by date or proper allergy warnings on a label, while other labels were not written in English or lacked basic nutrition information labelling.

Ms Kedgley said the "extremely worrying" result showed a clear and urgent need for tougher controls on illegally-labelled imported food and stronger powers to reject improperly labelled food at the border.

"What's the point in labelling laws if they are being systematically flouted by importers?" asked Ms Kedgley, the Green Party's spokesperson for Food Safety.

"Other countries like Australia reject improperly labelled food at the border, yet New Zealand does nothing to check labels at the border.

"It's time the Food Safety Authority stopped turning a blind eye to incorrectly labelled - therefore illegal - imported food.

"Allowing imported foods to be sold without proper labels penalises domestic food producers, who are required to comply with rigorous labelling requirements," Ms Kedgley said.

The major concern expressed by submitters to a recent Food Safety Authority review of imported food was the amount of incorrectly labelled imported food, Ms Kedgley added.

"New Zealand producers said there was not a level playing field, as there seemed to be one labelling law for domestic food, and another for imported food, she said.

Ms Kedgley recently surveyed a random selection of imported foods and not a single one of them had proper labels.

ENDS

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