Widespread abuse of the term “organic” in New Zealand means consumers are unwittingly eating food tainted by chemicals, the organic sector says.
The national umbrella organisation Organics Aotearoa New Zealand has been talking to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for more than a year about the need to regulate to protect certified organics producers.
There is no need for regulation, as the Fair Trading Act already covers misleading advertising.
Green Party spokesman for agriculture Steffan Browning has called on the Government to safeguard the value of the term “organic”. For him, waiting until 2017 to look at the issue was “simply unacceptable”.
Companies can become “certified organic”, and by doing this it means they meet an agreed international standard during production, processing, and selling their products.
A certified organic company’s food is free of additives, and has not relied on chemicals during growth.
But certification isn’t compulsory – and there is no legal requirement for claims of uncertified organic produce to be genuine, Browning said.
Marketing claims and the use of the term “organic” on food labels are controlled through the Fair Trading Act, which is enforced by the Commerce Commission.
Under the Fair Trading Act, representations about food must not mislead a consumer, and the producer must be able to demonstrate products are produced organically.
But the industry says there are products falsely-labelled as “organic” on the domestic market.
Then they should complain to the Commerce Commission. We don’t need to set up some new law or government body for this.
Personally I think organic food has no health advantages over non organic food, and the scientific consensus says the same. But I do support people being able to know what they are buying, and that advertising should be accurate. But again, we have existing laws that cover this.