QLD farmers demand closure of “origin” label NZ loophole

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th September 2011

Reports of vegetables from China entering Australia via New Zealand without being labelled as Chinese have sparked calls from a major farming organization in Queensland to demand the New Zealanders cooperate on tighter Country of Origin Labelling (‘CoOL’) to comply with the mandatory Australian CoOL requirements.

According to some reports, vegetables grown with food chemicals that are banned in other countries are gaining access to Australian markets through New Zealand. It has been alleged that some vegetables carrying these chemicals are not being adequately tested by Australian authorities when they are imported from New Zealand because of New Zealand’s free trade agreement with Australia, known as the Trans-Tasmanian Mutual Recognition Agreement.

CEO of Growcom, the peak representative body for the fruit and vegetable growing industry in Queensland, Alex Livingstone said, “With an increasingly close economic relationship between Australia and New Zealand, it would make sense for both countries to sit down and decide on clear, uniform Country of Origin Labelling laws that would properly inform customers on the origin of their food.

“While not perfect, Australia does have Country of Origin Labelling Laws, but in New Zealand there is no requirement for a food manufacturer to identify the source of contents of their product.”

Mr Livingstone said that the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) are the two established forums where the matter of a uniform CoOL system between the two countries could be discussed and formulated.

On the subject of providing food labeling information about the  source of origin of the food, Australian Food News recently reported on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) instituting legal proceedings against two Victorian meat retailers alleging false and misleading representations about meat claimed to originate from King Island, Tasmania.