New Zealanders are being urged to once again ask their retailer if their tomatoes have been treated with radiation, as, according to this story, large volumes of unlabelled irradiated Australian tomatoes hit local shelves.
Food retailers and the hospitality sector are legally required to label or indicate where imported irradiated Australian tomatoes are sold or served. However many are unaware that they have a responsibility to their customers to label the produce as irradiated.
Alasdair MacLeod, Chair of Tomatoes New Zealand, said; “We are asking all food and hospitality retailers, including catering companies, to clearly label their irradiated produce at point of sale and on their menus to avoid any public confusion.”
“We are also urging people to register their complaints with the Ministry for Primary Industries via their hotline number and/or email should they believe irradiated Australian tomatoes are being sold without any labeling or signage provided.”
Tomatoes New Zealand is calling on those importing, selling or serving tomatoes to comply with the New Zealand Food Standards Code, which states all food that has been irradiated, or food that contains irradiated ingredients or components, be labeled or have a label displayed on or close to it stating that it has been treated with ionizing radiation.
Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not have mandatory country of origin labeling of fresh produce – so unless retailers clearly label irradiated Australian tomatoes, consumers won’t be able to distinguish irradiated tomatoes from New Zealand tomatoes which are never irradiated.
New Zealand already accepts a number of irradiated tropical fruit from Australia that we don’t grow in New Zealand such as mango, papaya and custard apple. These fruits are required to have mandatory labelling.