Do the new country of origin food labelling laws go far enough?

Upcoming new food labelling laws are being welcomed by New Zealand fruit and vegetable food producers, however some groups say they don't go far enough.

The Consumers' Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill passed its third reading in Parliament on Wednesday.

It requires clear origin labelling on vegetables, frozen fruit, seafood and meat, and will apply to foods with one ingredient, unprocessed or minimally processed.

The Soil & Health Association is welcoming the new food labelling law, but thinks it could go further.

"Transparent food labelling is fundamental in allowing people to make informed choices," said Soil & Health National Council member Steffan Browning.

"The Bill however only applies to single-ingredient foods such as fresh fruit, meat, fish and vegetables, and Soil & Health says foods of multiple origins should be labelled too."

He said there is concern that several single-origin foods have been excluded from the Bill, including flour, oils, nuts and seeds.

"We particularly want flours and grains included, as most of the soy and maize products from the US are genetically modified," said Mr Browning.

"It's absolutely necessary we have GE food labelling, but in that absence of enforcement we should at the very least be able to choose what country maize and soy products are from."

Horticulture NZ's Mike Chapman (on left) is welcoming the new law.
Horticulture NZ's Mike Chapman (on left) is welcoming the new law. Photo credit: Supplied

Meanwhile, fruit and vegetable growers are welcoming the new law.

"Getting mandatory country of origin labelling, or CoOL, for fruit and vegetables has been something growers have been asking for from successive governments for over 10 years," said Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman. 

"Once this Bill comes into law, consumers get to choose what to buy with full knowledge of where their fruit and vegetables come from."

There has been widespread support for country of origin labelling. 

A survey conducted last year by Consumer NZ and Horticulture NZ found that 71 percent of Kiwis want mandatory country of origin labelling and 65 percent said they looked for country of origin labelling when they were shopping.