Irradiated food labelling
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) have released have released the result of their 18-month review of labelling for irradiated food. TomatoesNZ was consulted directly and made a submission advocating for the retention of the labelling requirement, because our research showed that consumers want to know if their food is irradiated.
The conclusion of the review was that the irradiated food labelling rules will not be changed.
There have been some shipments of Australian tomatoes arriving during August. If you see Australian tomatoes that are not labelled “irradiated”, please report the details (including the time, location, and a photo if possible) to the Ministry for Primary Industries, email Info@mpi.govt.nz or phone 0800 008 333 .
This is good news, as it means that irradiated imported Australian tomatoes (and other irradiated produce) must continue to be labelled as irradiated, at point-of sale. All Australian tomatoes arriving here are irradiated for biosecurity purposes.
TomatoesNZ backs call for mandatory Country of Origin Labelling
9th March 2017
Tomatoes New Zealand is calling for all political parties to support the bill for compulsory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) following the release of a survey showing New Zealanders want to know where their food comes from.
For the full press release please see this news item.
Submission to FSANZ on labelling of irradiated food.
29th March 2016
TomatoesNZ has made a submission to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand review of the mandatory labelling of irradiated food. Our submission can be downloaded:
FSANZ will report back on the irradiated food labelling review to the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation late this year and may or may not publish the review report. So it will probably not be until next year that we hear the outcome of the review.
Tell FSANZ your views on labelling irradiated food.
19th January 2016
Submissions are open until 29th March 2016.
We have created a template submission for growers to use. You can amend the template (especially where highlighted in red font) and submit it through this FSANZ page, or by emailing it to email@example.com
All fresh tomatoes imported into New Zealand are treated by irradiation. Food irradiation is a biosecurity treatment for imported foods, used to protect New Zealand's unique environment from new pests and diseases. TomatoesNZ supports the current requirement to label all imported foods that have been treated with irradiation.
- TomatoesNZ's view on labelling irradiated food
- TomatoesNZ irradiated food labelling poll results
Retailers don't know they should label irradiated Aussie Tomatoes
15th December 2015
A survey of independent retailers by TomatoesNZ found that more than a third of those stocking Australian tomatoes were not aware of the requirement to label them as irradiated.
The survey of stores across 23 Auckland suburbs, carried out just prior to the first seasonal imports in April, found that just over half buy Australian tomatoes. Of these, 81 % knew all Australian tomatoes are irradiated but only 62 per cent said they were aware of labelling requirements.
”We would like to see the labelling requirements strengthened to include individual labelling of irradiated products. This would place the onus for labelling with the producer and importer, rather than relying on retailers to convey the message,” said Alasdair MacLeod, chair of Tomatoes NZ.
For the full story, please go here
FSANZ reviewing the requirement to label irradiated food
18th November 2015
Tomatoes New Zealand has continued to advocate on behalf of growers, ahead of Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) launching public consultation on current labelling requirements. This is an issue TomatoesNZ has been advocating strongly about over the past three years – and we were successful in ensuring that MPI communicated and enforced the current labelling requirements for irradiated tomatoes.
We met with FSANZ representatives in October to provide our views on whether the current labelling requirements around irradiated foods should continue and to discuss the arguments for and against this. This included TomatoesNZ pressing for individual labelling of irradiated fruit.
Issues under discussion at the meeting included whether the current labelling achieves its intended purpose – to empower customers to make an informed choice – and if this is sufficient or needs to be strengthened with a prescribed statement or symbol.
We also discussed whether, if labelling is to continue, all foods require labelling or consideration should be given to omitting foodservice outlets or ingredients in manufactured products.
We also outlined the results of our own consumer research on the issue, carried out earlier this year. This overwhelmingly showed that consumers want irradiated fruit and vegetables to be labelled (85%), while 78% wanted to know whether the dish they ordered at a restaurant, café or takeaway includes irradiated fruit or vegetables.
We believe that importers/wholesalers appear to be complying with the requirements, for instance by labelling cartons, and are willing to provide information to retailers about the labelling requirements.
However, a further recent survey we conducted, with independent retailers, showed more than a third of those stocking Australian tomatoes were still not aware of the requirement to label them as “irradiated” (and not just “Australian”).
We believe information on the carton or box is lost when tomatoes are removed and displayed loose for retail sale or used in restaurants of cafés. On this basis, we are calling for the current requirements to be strengthened by adding in individual labelling of fruit (with stickers). We are also strongly supporting retaining the requirement to label all irradiated foods, including those used as ingredients and served in restaurants, cafes and in takeaways.
Individual stickering would ensure that the information that a product has been irradiated is retained throughout the supply chain, and that the primary responsibility for labelling sits with the packer/importer instead of the retailer.
Prescriptive wording for the labelling is not necessary, as long as the label explicitly states that the food is irradiated. A symbol (e.g. the “radura” symbol) should not be permitted on its own, as it is not sufficiently obvious that it signifies treatment with irradiation.
We also outlined to FSANZ the work we have done to educate retailers, restaurants and café’s on the labelling requirements. This has included sending them a letter and the MPI information sheet on labelling requirements, plus a laminated sign for retailers to place with irradiated product. We have also placed two features in Restaurant & Café magazine outlining the labelling requirement.
This issue remains a priority and one we’ll continue to take an active interest in, as we believe labelling is critical to ensure consumers can make an informed choice for what they consume.
FSANZ intends to seek public views on the labelling requirements during public consultation from late November or early December. We urge growers to support this by making a submission to the FSANZ consultation. Information on making a submission will be posted on the TomatoesNZ website when available.
Most New Zealanders want irradiated produce sold in shops and food outlets to be clearly labelled, a survey commissioned by Tomatoes New Zealand has found.
The study of 1000 people found that 85% of participants want irradiated fruit and vegetables, as well as food made with irradiated produce, to be clearly identified.
Tomatoes NZ chair Alasdair MacLeod, said: “With seasonal stocks of irradiated tomatoes soon arriving in New Zealand, it’s timely to remind retailers, restaurants and catering operations that by law consumers must be made aware of irradiated produce so that they can make an informed choice about whether to purchase it.”
Some foods, including all imported Australian tomatoes, are irradiated to preserve the food and kill bacteria and pests. This involves exposing it to ionising radiation and x-rays or gamma rays which pass through it like microwaves in a microwave oven.
Mr MacLeod said: “The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) requires anyone selling irradiated produce to provide clear labelling for customers at point of sale. This research shows there is overwhelming support for this from New Zealand consumers.
“New Zealand tomatoes are never irradiated, but Tomatoes NZ supports measures taken to protect New Zealand’s vulnerable horticulture industry from pests like the Queensland fruit fly.
“Each piece of irradiated produce is not individually labelled but retailers must provide signage at point of sale. Consumers can look out for signage and, if in doubt, ask the retailer.”
The survey carried out by Curia Market Research, found that 85% of respondents want stores to label irradiated fruit and vegetables and 78% want to know if food they order at a restaurant, café or takeaway includes irradiated produce.
Slightly more women than men wanted to see irradiation labelling in stores and food outlets but there was no major differences across different age groups or locations.
A thousand respondents participated in the poll, taken from a random selection of 15,000 nationwide phone numbers. The results were weighted to reflect the overall adult population in terms of gender, age and area. Based on this sample of 1,000 respondents, the maximum sampling error (for a result of 50 per cent) is +/- 3.2 per cent, at the 95 per cent confidence level.
Download the TomatoesNZ irradiated food labelling poll results
Assisting importers and retailers with new irradiation labelling requirements
5th August 2014
On 31 July 2013, permission in the joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to irradiate was extended to tomatoes and capsicums for the purpose of controlling fruit fly. On 14 August 2013 a new Health Import Standard 1.5.3 of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Code came into effect thus allowing these foods to be imported into New Zealand.
Food irradiation is a non-chemical process that treats certain types of food with ionising radiation. It's used as biosecurity treatment for imported foods to protect New Zealand's unique environment.
Before irradiation, the agricultural chemical dimethoate was the main biosecurity treatment for tomatoes and capsicums imported into New Zealand from Australia. In 2011 the Australian authorities suspended approval for dimethoate while its use is reviewed. Our biosecurity officials have assessed the effectiveness of irradiation to manage biosecurity risks and irradiation can now be used as an alternative biosecurity treatment for these imported products.
The labelling requirement applies to packaged food from time of importing into New Zealand through to the point it is sold to the consumer. If the food is not normally required to be labelled (for example, loose fruit and vegetables in supermarkets), then the mandatory labelling statement must be displayed on or close to the food at all points of sale. While the wording of labels isn't specified, labelling must be sufficient to indicate the food has been irradiated - for example 'treated with ionising radiation' or 'irradiated capsicums'. The labelling requirements also apply to food sold in restaurants and food supplied for catering purposes.
Tomatoes New Zealand is working across industry to identify how the standard is being implemented by businesses. Guidance for importers and retailers on labelling requirements was distributed via industry associations and other contacts held by MPI. Since confirmation of the first shipments of irradiated tomatoes and capsicums was received we have been asking consumers to remain vigilant.
If you believe a retailer is selling unlabelled irradiated produce, you can register your complaint on the Ministry for Primary Industries phone hotline on 0800 693721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on labelling requirements Visit: www.foodsafety.govt.nz/elibrary/industry/labelling-irradiated-foods-info...
For more information on food irradiation Visit: www.mpi.govt.nz/news-resources/news/food-irradiation-fact-sheet
For specific information relating to consumers, retailers and the hospitality sector see the download documents below.