Below is a letter written by Tariana Turia to the Minister of Food Safety Nikki Kaye
Tena koe Minister
The Maori Party has recently met with a representative of the campaign ‘Unmask Palm Oil.’ They have sought our support to highlight the issues relating to the harvesting of palm oil, and also to ensure that consumers in New Zealand have greater opportunity to identify palm oil as an ingredient in products as a means of making informed and ethical choices.
The Maori Party have concerns about the impact of the deforestation of rain forest in the production of this commonly used ingredient. We are particularly concerned about the impact of deforestation on indigenous communities who have become displaced from theirhomelands, and of course the environmental effects of this activity.
We believe that consumers should have the opportunity to make ethical decisions when purchasing everyday products. We are also aware that as Minister for Food Safety you have responsibilities for leading the New Zealand response to food labelling issues, and that currently there is a report named ‘Labelling Logic: Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (2011)’ that is currently under your consideration. We are writing to you to express our support for Recommendation 12 of that report:
“That where sugars, fats or vegetable oils are added as separate ingredients in a food, the terms ‘added sugars’ and ‘added fats’ and/or ‘added vegetable oils’ beused in the ingredient list as the generic term, followed by a bracketed list. ...[of]added sugars, added fats, or added vegetable oils.”
The Maori Party is aware that Unmask Palm Oil have contacted you directly, however we wish to support their call for food labelling that allows consumers to make ethical decisions.
Finally Minister, the Maori Party welcomes your leadership in advancing a standard to give legal effect to a new food regulation for making claims about the health properties of food on labels as announced in April this year.
We hope that the new labelling regime will help New Zealanders to maintain a healthier diet with better information about nutrition content. We would be interested in learning of your opinion of the star-rating system as established in Australia (e.g. in which sodium, saturated fat, sugar and energy content are rated).
We look forward to your response.
Hon Tariana Turia,
Co-leader of the Maori Party