7 July 2023
Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee has recommended the Government consider clearer country-of-origin labelling requirements for pork products.
Last year NZPork complained to the select committee that food labelling regulations did not ensure that consumers had accurate information about the country-of-origin of pork .
NZPork chief executive Brent Kleiss said the consumer information standards regulations allowed manufacturers to advertise that a pork product such as bacon or ham was “made in New Zealand”, while putting on the back in fine print a list of countries the pork might be sourced from.
Clear country-of-origin labelling allowed consumers to make informed purchasing decisions, he said.
“We have been concerned that products are being sold to consumers as ‘made in New Zealand’ when they are not made from born-and-raised New Zealand pork.
“The fact that these products contain meat from foreign sources is only mentioned in small print on the back of the product. This practice is misleading and confusing for consumers as to the true nature of the product’s origins.”
In its report, the committee concluded that “using fine print on the back of packaging to list the origin of the meat in bacon or ham, while labelling the bacon prominently on the front as ‘made in New Zealand’, could be materially confusing or misleading to consumers”.
“We recommend that the Government considers amending regulation 10 of the consumer information standards (origin of food) regulations 2021 to prevent potential misrepresentation in country of origin food labelling,” the committee said in its findings.
The committee said it had looked at Australian food labelling standards.
The main features of the Australian scheme were that most food for retail sale in Australia was labelled with a country of origin and that, “most food grown, produced, made or packaged in Australia must carry a standard mark stating the proportion of Australian ingredients by weight, using text and a bar chart diagram”.
“We note that these requirements are more rigorous than those in New Zealand, which only require fresh or frozen food of a single kind, and cured pork, to be labelled with a country of origin.”
Kleiss said he was pleased the select committee found the regulations were not consistent with the purpose of the Fair Trading Act and the Country of Origin of Food Act.
Clear country-of-origin labelling would give consumers confidence they had bought local products and supported local farmers, he said.
Kleiss said he also wanted Government to consider other changes such as broadening the application of the regulations, so products such as salami, sausages, meatballs, and marinated meats were subject to the requirement to disclose origin.
“Kiwis should look for the ‘100% NZ’ pork labelling or NZPork’s PigCare label on pork packaging, he said.