Food labelling in New Zealand

Page - February 1, 2007
New Zealand has poor food labelling regulations. We want them improved, so GE products are identified. We have the right to know.

GE or not GE, that's the question.

New Zealand's food labelling laws are managed by a joint Australiasian body called Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). The two countries share the same poor GE labelling laws.

NZ should label GE foods at least to the European standard

In Europe refined products, such as cooking oils that are made from GE crops must be labelled as such.

While animal products from animals fed on GE feed are not labelled, feed imports themselves must be labelled, unlike New Zealand where animal feed can legally enter without any notification of its GE status.

Aside from fulfilling the right of consumers to know what is in their food, it would be an advantage to New Zealand producers if our laws matched the European laws given that Europe is New Zealand's biggest food export market and the majority of the world's consumers want GE free food.

Current NZ labelling

The FSANZ laws leave consumers in the dark by allowing a number of GE ingredients to be included in our food without any label:

  • Refined ingredients such as oils, cornstarch, soy lecithin and sugars that have been highly processed don't require labelling.
  • Any food prepared at the point of sale such as fresh baked bread, takeaways and other fast foods don't require labelling.
  • Dairy, meat, eggs, fish, honey and other foods from animals raised on a diet of GE animal feed don't require labelling.
  • Processing aids and food additives such as vegetarian rennet in some cheese, brewing and baking aids and colourings don't require labelling.
  • Flavourings when they make up less than 0.1% of the final food product don't require labelling.