A company fined today for importing Chinese powdered royal jell and labelling it as 'Made in New Zealand' could be just the tip of the iceberg of more widespread false labelling, Green Party Commerce spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.
This latest judgement comes after a case last year where a company ProKiwi was also fined for misleading the public by selling deceptively labelled 'New Zealand' body-care products, which were actually made in China.
"Many companies could be misleading consumers by making false claims about a product being New Zealand made, when it is not," said Ms Kedgley.
"The problem is that there is little, if any, monitoring to ensure that country of origin labels are being properly applied in New Zealand."
Ms Kedgley pointed out that there are no clear rules or standards around using the claim 'Made in New Zealand,' or 'Product of New Zealand', and they have no regulatory underpinning. Nor is there any monitoring of products to ensure products are not being mislabelled.
"The Commerce Commission guidelines are extremely vague and difficult to figure out," said Ms Kedgley.
"Their guidelines say products labelled 'Made in New Zealand' can include imported components and some overseas manufacturing, but companies must be careful not to mislead consumers.
"When the Green Party asked the Commerce Commission to interpret its guidelines, it advised a Green Party researcher to hire a lawyer to work this out.
"The Commerce Commission does not seem to have any teeth and only responds to specific complaints; and no one is undertaking any monitoring."
Ms Kedgley said the current regulation left plenty of wiggle room for wily companies. A survey commissioned by the party showed consumers