GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 12th April 2006

Labelling Bill Needed to End Consumer Deception

A survey of supermarket products undertaken by the Green Party shows the urgent need for new labelling rules to end the on-going deception of New Zealand consumers concerning what we eat.

The Consumer Right to Know (Food Information) Bill proposed by Green MP Sue Kedgley is important in giving people the information they need to make a genuine choice about what they eat, and to stop unscrupulous manufacturers hiding the truth about their products.

"The supermarket survey shows that some manufacturers are cynically ignoring current rules that allow them to voluntarily label GE ingredients and to be honest about what they use," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

The survey also suggests that if the label on meat does not say "made in NZ" then it probably isn't!. Many New Zealanders will be horrified that we import so much meat from overseas, and that animals could have been fed on GE ingredients known to have a physiological impact on animals, and potentially on people eating meat from them.

Some food manufactuers are deliberately exploiting gaps in the rules to sell food that many people would reject "if they only knew". This is unacceptable both for ethical and food-safety reasons, and a stricter labelling system as proposed in the bill is vital.

It's time the food industry was kept honest by proper labelling. Apart from the "sharks" in the grocery industry, most companies should welcome honest labelling to restore the consumer's role as "king".

Proper labelling will also meet the growing need for what is known as 'field-to-fork' tracking of ingredients as a quality and food-safety measure.A proper labelling regime will protect New Zealand's reputation as a producer of clean, safe food, as well as protecting public health.

The new Bill must be supported by all political parties as a necessary and responsible approach to ensuring food safety and consumer-choice.

MP's must not let vested interests in the Food Industry undermine this Bill or allow the continuation of the present labelling regime which is characterised by deception and deliberate exploitation of consumers.
Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

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