Although work has been taking place on the Consumers’ Right to Know Bill since 2016, bacon was only added to the list of products at the last minute. Green Party MP Gareth Hughes, a proponent of the bill, said bacon was proving to be a sticking point.
“The biggest question the committee faced was whether it would bring home the bacon and include bacon in the legislation after being disregarded. It probably killed my vegetarian street-cred that New Zealand Pork put a press release out saying they thanked me for my advocacy. But I genuinely believe that if Kiwi consumers want to avoid poor animal welfare standards, they should be able to have the information.
“I'm grateful that the committee did listen to the advocacy groups such as New Zealand Pork for the overwhelming majority of submitters and bacon was included, and I thank the National Party in particular for that inclusion.”
According to Hughes, the original bill covered all single-component foods and was amended by the Primary Production Committee to only include ‘single-ingredient minimally processed foods’. He said the rationale for this was the committee wanted a scheme that was simple to implement, with the least cost, and to avoid confusion around definition. However, Hughes felt this might not be enough and lobbied for other products to be included.
Speaking during the Third Reading, Hughes gave bacon as an example of why the legislation would be important. “What I want is for those people who do eat bacon when they look at the labels to be able to work out where that bacon comes from, because the fact is, when you look at bacon or pork or a whole bunch of other products in New Zealand, it says ‘Made from local and imported ingredients’.
“Given that 85% of New Zealand bacon is imported [and] 95% of that is from countries with terrible, much worse animal welfare standards, our consumers are none the wiser. And it's not just a problem with bacon; it's a problem with all of our foods. It’s a problem with our food labelling laws, and that’s what we’re here to fix.”
The bill is awaiting Royal Assent before it can be implemented.