Survey results released today showing that nearly two thirds of New Zealanders can’t understand food labels and want better food labelling come as no surprise.
Our food labels are pathetic and extremely poor by international standards. They are full of information we don’t need, but don’t contain information we do need –such as where food comes from, and whether it is healthy or not.
And they are extremely confusing –as the survey found.
Manufacturers want to use food labels as marketing tools, to help sell their produce, rather than as information tools for consumers, to provide consumers with the information we need to make an informed purchasing choice.
The problem is, we can’t see or smell food when we buy it in a package. The only way we can try and figure out what we are buying is by reading the information on the label. That’s why good labels on food are so important.
An independent panel commissioned by Food Standards Australia New Zealand has recommended far-reaching changes to improve our food labels, but our government is intent on sabotaging their excellent recommendations.
They are opposing important improvements to food labels, such as traffic light labels and country of origin labels.
MAF is leading an inter-departmental team that is preparing our government’s official response to the FSANZ food labelling review, and is determined to keep their response secret –even though it is an issue that is of huge public interest. I have been trying to get a copy of their response for the last six months, under the Official Information Act and by written questions, but they are stone-walling me, and will not release the information.
They don’t want the public to know, until after the election, that they are opposing all efforts to improve our food labels. I think it’s a scandalous situation.