wi imports, prompting New Zealand opposition parties to pressure the government to introduce mandatory country of origin labelling.
Despite being a signatory to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Agreement, New Zealand has still not adopted the same approach to labelling as its partner, which requires CoOL (country of origin labelling) for fresh, single ingredient products.
This week, Owen Symmans of the New Zealand Pork Industry Board has added his voice to the debate.
“Many New Zealanders believe that as a food producing country the food they buy is grown here. They want to support local produce, [and] most will be surprised this is not actually the case,” Symmans told the select committee, which is hearing submissions on the Food Bill.
“For example, 49% of the pork and pork products consumed here are imported. Our research tells us that people generally believe the bacon, ham or pork they are buying is local. And often the labelling, while legal, is misleading.”
Symmans said that with some products, such as ham and bacon, the only Kiwi components might be the water or the manuka smoke used during processing.
“The major ingredient – the meat – is imported from somewhere else, such as Mexico or Canada.”
“NZPork has recommended to the select committee hearing submissions on the Food Bill that CoOL labelling requirements be introduced for single ingredient products under the FSANZ standard. We should not continue to ‘opt out’ of our responsibility to ensure consumers can make an informed decision about the food they are buying.”
He added that rules also need to be amended so that the country of origin of the main ingredient of a multiple ingredient processed product is identified in a clear and obvious manner.
“New Zealanders have a right to know and be able to then make an informed decision when buying their food.”