Country of origin labelling on food

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 17-Jul-2007 11:19

New Zealand and Australia signed a joint memorandum in the mid 90's signalling the creating of ANZFA, an organisation that has since been renamed FSANZ (Food Standards Australia new Zealand) who's responsibility it was to develop and impliment joint food standards in both countries. This is something that's extremely logical and the fact so many suppliers in this part of the world have products in both countries it meant that the development of ingredient and nutritional panels on foods would be easier since both countries would have the same standard. This system has worked very well with the implimentation of compulsary ingredient and nutitional labelling over the past few years.

Over the past couple of years however things have started to go off track, we've had the current saga of the complementary medicines act which is likely to be be passed in Australia and canned in NZ but lets ignore that and focus on other issue where NZ has differed - country of origin labelling on foodstuffs.

In Australia it's soon going to be compulsary to include the country of origin on all food products. While a large percentage of food already mentions this it's was not required by law and companies had no obligation to include this information. All food products will require to have this information on the packaging including fruit & vegetables, meat and seafood. Australia adopted this however our Food Safety Minister Annette King decided this was not in the best interests of NZ on the grounds that it was not a Food Safety issue but simply an issue of consumer information. Several  groups in NZ were strongly against this bill including Federated Farmers who believed there was no need for such labelling. The irony of this is that our own farmers are suffering due to cheap foreign meat being imported into NZ and sold at a retail level with consumers being totally oblivious to this. If meat had to have country of origin labelling you would at least be giving consumers a choice between imported or domestic products. How they could possibly object to a law that would force retailers to show the country of origin of meat completely baffles me.

Recent cases of dodgy Chinese seafood and dodgy toothpaste shows how out of touch Annette King is. Whether these products are safe or not is irrelevant. Consumers have a right to know where their food is manufacturered so they can make appropiate decisions for themselves. Maybe people want to avoid food from a country such as China? Maybe people just want to know if their food is made in NZ so they can support locally made products? Annette King's claim that country of origin labelling was in no way related to food safety has now been proven totally innacurate so it's about time we reviewed this stupid decision not to join Australia in enforcing country of origin labelling.

If you are serious about knowing where your food comes from make sure you write to your local MP and suggest that her stupid decision be over turned. Knowing where our food comes from is a basic right.

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Steve Biddle
Wellington
New Zealand


I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.


I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

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