New Zealand Law Society - Third reading for food origin legislation

Third reading for food origin legislation

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Parliament has given a third reading to the Consumers' Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill and it will come into force on the day after it receives the Royal assent.

The Member's bill was introduced on 8 December 2016 by former Green Party MP Steffan Browning and adopted by Green Party MP Gareth Hughes.

It introduces a mandatory labelling system that provides consumers with information about the country of origin of single component foods. The objective of this is to enable consumers to make informed decisions about purchasing the food.

The legislation will be repealed 18 months after its commencement. This follows a decision by the Primary Production Committee to recommend that the bill's requirements should be contained in a consumer information standard under section 27 of the Fair Trading Act 1986. Section 27 allows the making of regulations that prescribe consumer information standards for goods or services.

The committee stated that creation of a permanent standalone Act for a single issue could be confusing by having legal requirements for country of origin labelling for consumer goods spread across several Acts.

Clause 5(1) of the bill requires the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to recommend as soon as practicable and within 18 months of commencement that regulations be made under section 27 of the Fair Trading Act to prescribe a consumer information standard for disclosing a regulated food's country or place of origin.

Subsection 3 states that the regulated foods must include food that is either only one type of fruit, vegetable, meat, fish or seafood that is fresh or frozen and is not more than minimally processed, or cured pork. Food that is supplied for immediate consumption or at a fundraising event is excluded. The food may be packaged or unpackaged.

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