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Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 409

Mr ADAMS (11:56 AM) —I thank the member for Kingston for bringing this motion before the House. We have been trying to come to grips with this very important issue for many, many years. For some time I have been keeping an eye on food labels to give me some idea of where processed foods originate. There seems to be a whole series of codes. If you are a simple shopper trying to work out the nutritional value of the food, and where it comes from, it is a very difficult task indeed. The codes relate to food values. But if the product says ‘made in Australia’, there is also a code for the country of origin—because often the original ingredients are actually sourced from overseas and brought together to be made into a product here in Australia. Some things we just do not grow, so I can understand that there is a need to source some things from overseas. But, by the same token, there are sometimes things that are grown here, and we need to know that. We need to know who is putting home-grown product into processed goods.

There is also the problem of a product’s nutritional value. If you go to the doctor and he gives you a list of food types you should avoid—and, as a person with type 2 diabetes, I have looked at this myself—you will struggle to find the details. The information that is given by doctors and dietitians to their patients and clients has no relationship to the food labels that an individual consumer sees when they walk into a supermarket. There is very little relation between the information on those labels and the medical system and medical processes we use to try and help people with these issues. There is a great deal of need to do that, especially when, as the member for Kingston has identified in her motion, we are talking about preventive health issues in our great country. There is a great issue there that we need to deal with and come to grips with. It is all about the labelling of food.

I asked one of my staff how I could help consumers choose the right stuff. It has been an interesting exercise. There is so much information, but not very much in simple form, and it is not very easy for consumers. New Zealanders always seem to be well ahead of us in understanding consumers’ needs with regard to food. New Zealand has put out a guide which shows where you can find information on a product, such as date marking, a list of ingredients et cetera.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—Order! It being 12 noon, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate is interrupted. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The honourable member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.