1 May 2013

Call for Australian irradiated tomatoes to be labelled

6:33 am on 1 May 2013

New Zealand tomato growers say consumers here should have the right to know whether they're biting into irradiated Australian tomatoes.

Tomatoes New Zealand says as of June irradiated Australian tomatoes and capsicums could be arriving in New Zealand.

Chairman Alasdair MacLeod is calling on Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye to make sure all Australian tomatoes and capsicums which have been irradiated be labelled as such, so consumers can make informed decisions.

He said it's not a food safety issue, but one of consumer choice and the organisation has had a lot of anecdotal feedback that's what people want.

Mr MacLeod said it goes further than just retailers labelling loose product, it's also about the food service industry making it very clear on menus if they have used an irradiated product as well.

He said Australia already requires food that is irradiated to be labelled as such.

A spokesperson for Nikki Kaye said the minister is still considering the issues surrounding irradiated tomatoes and no decisions have yet been made.

They said it was too early for her to comment.

Food which has been irradiated has been subjected to ionizing radiation which kills bacteria and pests and can also delay the ripening process.

Fresh produce from Queensland is irradiated to stop the spread of diseases such as the Queensland Fruit Fly.