24 Jul 2013

Chinese get more info on formula than NZers - MP

9:17 am on 24 July 2013

The Labour Party says Chinese parents have more information on what they're feeding their babies than parents in New Zealand.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced a brand register for infant milk formula exporters, after China told it it needed brand information on all export certificates following scares about mislabelled product in China.

Labour's food safety spokesperson, Damien O'Connor, says Chinese mums and dads are now able to buy infant milk formula, knowing where it was produced.

But he says New Zealand's lack of country of origin labelling makes it hard for consumers here to make informed choices.

Mr O'Connor says there is growing concern around not just the quality of food but where it is produced.

"I think it's a very good move that New Zealand producers of infant formula have got together, will be certified and provide accurate information to Chinese mothers but it's somewhat ironic that we can't offer the same security and knowledge to New Zealand mothers because infant formula for babies here doesn't have to have country of origin labelling on it," he says.

New Zealand producers should get a premium because of the high-quality production in this country, Mr O'Connor says.

"It's only reasonable that we brand it country of origin, New Zealand, get a premium for it in the international market place but also provide local New Zealand consumers with clear knowledge that this has been produced in New Zealand, not in some other country and imported."

The MP wants the Government to make country of origin labelling mandatory in its proposed new Food Bill.