Auckland Food Importers Fined for Failure to Translate Allergen Warnings
Two Companies Penalized for Non-compliance with Food Act
Two Auckland-based food importers, Tokyo Food Company and Japan Mart 2014 Company Ltd, were slapped with hefty fines amounting to $28,000 for their failure to translate food allergen warnings into English on their product labels. The companies were prosecuted by New Zealand Food Safety compliance investigators following an extensive review of records spanning from January 9, 2020, to October 26, 2021. Tokyo Food Company was penalized with a $21,000 fine for two charges under the Food Act while Japan Mart was fined $7,000 for a single charge.
Companies Expected to Adhere to Local Regulations
According to Vincent Arbuckle, the Deputy Director-General of New Zealand Food Safety, the companies, being registered in New Zealand, were expected to adhere to the requirement of declaring allergens such as soy sauce and fish in English on their product labels. The non-compliance came to light through a thorough study of records over an extended period.
Tokyo Food Company’s Goma Wakame Recall
Upon investigation, it was discovered that Tokyo Food Company imported and sold seasoned seaweed salad, also known as goma wakame, to various supermarkets. However, the labels on their 1kg and 300g packets did not comply with the Australia New Zealand food standards code as the allergen soy was not declared on the package. As a result, two consumer recalls of the seaweed salad were executed, impacting 32,796 1kg packages and 7,752 300g packages.
Japan Mart’s Untranslated Allergen Warning on Calbee Potato Chips
Japan Mart, on the other hand, was found to have imported and sold 96 bags of Calbee potato chips that lacked an English allergen warning. A member of the public triggered the investigation after noticing that the ingredients list in Japanese included scallop and bonito fish. However, this crucial information wasn’t translated into English on the label, making it difficult for English-speaking consumers to make informed decisions about their purchases.
New Zealand Food Safety’s Commitment to Consumer Safety
Underscoring the role of New Zealand Food Safety in ensuring consumer safety and maintaining high safety standards for imported food, Arbuckle asserted that the organization takes decisive action in cases of non-compliance. This includes product removals from shelves and court proceedings in serious cases.
Updated Requirements for Food Importers
In August, New Zealand Food Safety bolstered requirements for all food importers. These updated rules were intended to ensure further compliance and increase the safety standards of imported food items. Arbuckle encouraged all registered food importers to review these updated rules on the Ministry for Primary Industries website and ensure their adherence to them.
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