A Bill that allows consumers to know where food products come from passed in Parliament last night.
The Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill introduces mandatory labelling to provide information about the country of origin of foods.
“This labelling scheme enables consumers to make more informed decisions at the supermarket, by telling them where their food comes from,” Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi says. “New Zealand consumers want to be well informed so we’re pleased to have been able to make this Bill proceed.
“Some members of the food industry have also been asking for country of origin labelling, which helps them to fairly identify foods produced in New Zealand and levels the playing field for producers.”
Foods covered under the Bill include fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, fish, seafood and meat including cured pork products such as ham and bacon.
Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor says the scheme has been designed to be easy and cheap to set up and run.
“That’s why the requirements apply only to foods with one ingredient and that are fresh, frozen, unprocessed or minimally processed – for example, cut, filleted or minced meat.
“However, the Bill has to be useful for the industry into the future so allows for the extension of country of origin labelling to other foods if needed at some later stage,” O’Connor says.
Faafoi says he will be consulting further on how to implement the new requirements and whether any foods need to be added or excluded. The Bill requires the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to make regulations within 18 months.
“The Government wants to make sure that country of origin labelling provides useful information for consumers and is workable for the food industry.”
The Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill is a Member’s bill that was first introduced by former MP Steffan Browning in 2016, and later adopted by Green MP Gareth Hughes.
“I’d like to thank Mr Browning and Mr Hughes. Mr Browning’s groundwork laid the foundation for getting the Bill to where it is today, and Mr Hughes commitment to getting it through to completion played a large part in achieving a good outcome for consumers and producers,” says Faafoi.