Food Label Requirements Fuel Intense Debate in New Zealand

Finger pointing to the food labelA proposal to place custom food labels on single-ingredient products such as fruits and vegetables caused an intense debate in New Zealand.

The issue stemmed from a bill that would require the certain class of consumables to have labels stating their country of origin. Apart from fresh produce, the bill also compels food businesses to place the labels on meat products, nuts, oil and flour.

Customised food labels might not seem like big deals, but for Unimax, one of NZ’s leading label manufacturers, paying attention to it matters. The new bill adds to the importance of taking labels seriously.

Valid Argument

Supporters of the bill cited labels on mandarins, capsicums and pears on some supermarkets as their basis for argument. According to them, these fruits had labels showing that they came from New Zealand. On the contrary, the products originally came from Chile, Italy, the Netherlands and the U.S.

Those against the proposal, which consists mostly of big businesses, argued that the requirement is not as simple due to certain complications. These include the supposed costs arising from compliance and potentially weakening New Zealand’s trading position with other countries, amid certain rules on food imports and exports.

Aside from food labels, sunscreen products apparently have inaccurate claims in terms of sun protection factor (SPF) protection.

SPF Labels

Cosmetic companies have led us to believe that sunscreen with SPFs as high as 50 are effective, yet most products failed to deliver on what they promised on the label. An analysis of 60 products showed that some items had differences between claims on the package and their actual effects.

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Members of the International Consumer Research and Testing in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. also discovered the disparity in marketed products in the three countries.

Food labels have helped consumers make wise decisions on their eating habits. These have been useful for skincare and other consumer items as well. Are you in favour of changing current regulations on product labels for better transparency and accuracy of information?