TomatoesNZ urges action on unlabeled irradiated produce
The organization said it believed there were large volumes of unmarked irradiated produce on the country’s supermarket shelves, but added that the evidence was as yet anecdotal.
In a statement to www.freshfruitportal.com, TomatoesNZ chairman Alaisdair McCleod said it was important for consumers to be vigilant when shopping and ordering in restaurants.
“Tomatoes New Zealand is asking all food and hospitality retailers, including catering companies and fruit and vegetable markets, to clearly label their irradiated produce at point of sale and on their menus to avoid any public confusion,” McCleod said.
“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) monitors and follows up instances where it has been notified that irradiated Australian tomatoes are not labelled.
“We are urging people to register their complaints with (MPI) via their hotline number 0800 693721 and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org should they believe irradiated Australian tomatoes are being sold without any labelling or signage provided.”
In 2013, New Zealand imported some 195 metric tons (MT) of irradiated tomatoes from Australia.
McCleod said irradiating fresh Australian produce was very important in protecting New Zealand’s primary industry from biosecurity hazards like the Queensland Fruit Fly.
He added that there were no safety concerns from the treatment, but called for the labeling of irradiated produce so consumers know what treatments their food has received.
McCleod went on to say that unlike Australia, New Zealand does not require a mandatory country of origin labeling.
“This means retailers do not have to provide point-of-sale country of origin information on food products,” he said.
“TomatoesNZ supports country of origin labelling and believes New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food comes from and how it has been treated.”