Say goodbye to misleading country of origin claims
Where does your food come from?
Soon you’ll see full country of origin labels for many of your favourite fresh, thawed and frozen foods.
New rules will require this information on fresh and thawed food from February 2022 and frozen food from May 2023.
Businesses must clearly disclose on the item, product packaging, or signage near the product, the country or ocean in which the food was grown, raised, caught, or harvested.
This is good news for consumers who currently have to take country of origin claims from food suppliers at face value.
Take a ham, for example. At present, packaging could claim the ham is a product of New Zealand – but that pig could have been born, raised and slaughtered overseas, and only processed and packaged in New Zealand.
The result is that some consumers may believe they’re supporting local, but not as much as they may think.
Before these regulations take effect, country of origin food labelling has been voluntary in New Zealand (except for wine).
What foods are covered
The following foods will be required to disclose their country of origin:
finfish or shellfish
All of which meet certain criteria of being only one type, fresh, thawed or frozen, and no more than minimally processed.
Any food that doesn’t fall into the above categories is not covered by the new rules – for example, a mixed bag of frozen peas and corn, is more than one type of vegetable and is not included.
Meal kit suppliers, such as HelloFresh and My Food Bag, don’t have to disclose country of origin information (as long as the kit has more than one ingredient).
Your Friday night takeaways and weekend brunch will still look the same. Food prepared for immediate consumption isn’t covered in the regulations.
Penalties for breaking the rules
There can be hefty fees for not following the rules:
The Commerce Commission can issue an infringement notice to a
business of up to $1000 per offence.
For serious non-compliance, the courts can prosecute a company with a
fine up to $30,000 for each offence.
Individuals can be fined up to $10,000 for each offence.