Dole NZ issued compliance advice over 'ethical' label

Dole NZ issued compliance advice over 'ethical' label

Dole New Zealand has been issued a letter from the country's Commerce Commission following complaints its "Ethical Choice" advertisements and promotional materials were misleading.

The letter said the complaint showed the labeling could have been in breach of the Fair Trading Act 1986.

It said this was because the company's ISO 9002 was of an obsolete standard, the company had failed an SA 8000 audit and its ISO 4001 certification was a "basic standard that can be achieved by a company whatever their environmental maturity".

The complaint also said Dole had engaged in behavior contrary to the "Ethical Choice" claim, including allegedly exposing Philippine banana plantation farmers to toxic chemicals, which is part of an ongoing and outstanding court case.

The complaint also cited research from Fair Food International showing incidences of forced working hours, frequent accidents and the use of pesticides in the company.

"If this alleged unethical conduct was taking place then Dole's "Ethical Choice" label is misleading," the commission letter said.

"The "Ethical Choice" sticker may mislead consumers into believing that Dole has received independent third party verification.

The letter also highlighted the "eco" and "eco-friendly" representations made by Dole were misleading because they were not substantiated  by a whole-lifecycle approach.

A Commerce Commission spokesperson told the letter was its lowest form of enforcement and was not a warning. The letter itself states no more action will be taken.

"However, if we receive similar complaints in the future the Commission may revisit the matter with a view to stronger enforcement action," the letter said.

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