Committee recommends changes to Consumers’ Right To Know (Country Of Origin Of Food) Bill

Earl Gray

Simpson Grierson Partners Earl Gray and Richard Watts, joint leaders of the firm’s Intellectual Property group, discuss recent proposed amendments to the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill, which is now at the Second Reading stage in Parliament. The Bill aims to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

Richard Watts

New Zealand Parliament’s Primary Production Committee (Committee) has recommended amendments to the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill (Bill) after reviewing hundreds of submissions from stakeholders and the public. See our earlier note here.

The Original Bill

The Bill in its original form had proposed that consumers must be provided with information about the country of origin of all single ingredient foods, to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. These requirements would have applied to food that contained only one type of vegetable, fruit, meat, seafood, nut, grain, seed or oil, and the information would have to be on display at point of sale.

The Committee has opted for a simple, mandatory system and has recommended that labelling now be limited to only single types of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish or seafood, which have been minimally processed. This means that the requirements would not apply to foods such as nuts, seeds and grains, tinned fruit and vegetables, mixed frozen vegetables, crumbed fish fillets, dried fruit, marinated and cured meats (other than cured pork products).

The Committee’s amendment

The Committee has recommended that the majority of the Bill’s provisions be deleted, and has instead proposed that the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (the Minister), recommend regulations be made under section 27 of the Fair Trading Act (FTA), which provides for consumer information standards to be prescribed. The regulations will prescribe a consumer information standard that will contain the specific details of the country/place of origin requirements, instead of the information being contained in a permanent standalone Act.

The Committee’s amendments also provide more flexibility for compliance with the new requirements of the Bill. For example, the reference to “labelling” in clause 3 of the Bill has been removed so that origin information can be provided on either labels or signage associated with the sale of the foods.

The Committee also proposes that clause 5 of the original Bill, which sets out the principles that apply to decisions made and actions taken under the Act, be replaced with the requirements for the new consumer information standard. The main proposed amendments to clause 5 include the following:

    • Clause 5(1) would require the Minister to recommend regulations under section 27 of the FTA prescribing a consumer information standard for disclosing a food’s country or place of origin;
    • Clause 5(2) would require that the Minister is satisfied that the consumer information standard will:
      • require that a food’s country or place of origin is disclosed by reference to where it was grown, caught, or raised (not merely where it was packaged or manufactured);
      • commence 6 months after the date of notification in the Gazette (for fresh foods); and
      • not apply to frozen foods until 18 months after the commencement of the consumer information standard.

The recommended commencement timeframe allows for frozen foods that have a longer shelf life than fresh foods to transition to the new rules.

    • Clause 5(3) would specify the foods to which the regulations apply, namely:
      • one type of fresh or frozen, minimally processed fruit, vegetable, meat, fish or seafood; and
      • cured pork.

This amended clause also stipulates that the requirements only apply to food for retail sale, but would not apply to food sold in restaurants, cafeterias, takeaway shops, canteens or by a caterer or at a fundraising event.

In considering the Bill’s amendments, the Committee received advice from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The amended Bill can be found here.

Earl Gray is regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading intellectual property lawyers. He co-heads the firm’s intellectual property group. Earl advises on all aspects of IP, including protection, portfolio structuring, management, exploitation, transfer, and enforcement. Earl understands that intellectual property assets are core to the success of any modern enterprise. One of his strengths is tailoring his advice to meet commercial objectives. He is proactive in raising and addressing IP issues which arise in a client’s business and the market in which the client operates. Contact Earl at

Richard Watts co-heads the firm’s intellectual property group, advising a number of the world’s leading companies in the FMCG, pharmaceutical, IT, and sports industries. His practice covers both non-contentious and contentious IP. Richard works with a number of leading pharmaceutical companies and research institutions, particularly in international licensing and enforcement. This work includes development and implementation of patent and IP commercialisation strategies for leading local and international businesses. Richard is also highly regarded in copyright law, particularly in relation to IT and new technologies. Contact Richard at

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