Posts Tagged ‘ consumer rights ’

Pigs & Pork fuss, what about imported Pork?

I won’t go over the already well done ground of the current pig farming fuss, but I will take this opportunity to point out something that will be lost under the rumble of little trotters as the pigs break free into free-range farms.

Country of orgin labelling.

Pork is very cheap at the moment, in fact if you look at the kg price, it’s cheaper than lamb and beef. 

The only problem with, as with bacon, is we often have nop idea where it’s come from. While we fuss about the condition of pig farms here, it’s relevant only in the locally produced pork context, but what about the imported pork, ham and bacon, how’s that produced?

We have no idea because 90% of the time we don’t know where that products come from, is it Canada or China, if we knew, then we could decide whether we want to eat it and can factor in how it’s produced – I’d hazard a guess that the space the pigs in China are kept in would be secondary to what they’re being fed and medically treated with.

As consumers we should be able to make informed decisions on the food we eat, and in order to do this we need not only nturicional information, which is now of 99% of all foods, we also need to know where it’s made or grown.

I’ve seen the myriad of reasons why it can’t be done, but these look like pretty thin excuses to me. It can be done, sure it might be a bit of as hassle, and it might add a few cents onto the cost, although I personally doubt it. Will it change consumer habits, possibly. But at the end of the day it’s about choice. We deserve to have the option to buy or reject a particular food based on it’s origin. Some countries have very different food standards to us and the Food Safety Authority does not, and cannot, check everything that comes in. The fact that they continually find issues with food, some of it serious, implies that for everyone they catch at the border, there are more that are never caught.

It’s not too much to ask and it’s about time it was a legal requirement.


Minister to axe Commerce Commission


NZ Consumers Hero

I see tucked away in Thursday’s Herald the rumour that our new Commerce Minister Simon Power is thinking about having a look at the Commerce Commission.

He’s naturally being egged on by the likes of Telecom who would like nothing better than to behave in a shoddy way towards consumers without having a publicly funded body watching their every move.

I’d suggest that Simon had some more pressing issues at hand, and maybe he should be concentrating a bit more on protecting consumers rather than big business.

Being Commerce Minister doesn’t mean ignoring the people who buy the products that allow commerce to take place, in fact, in the current environment you’d think he’d be doing everything he could to encourage consumers.

It would be nice to think that big companies like Telecom, Progressive, Air NZ etc would treat consumers as a precious commodity instead of a bunch of silly tits who need to be relieved of their cash by any means possible. Obviously the longer they treat people with little respect, the more likely their are to disappear, so they do ultimately pay the price for their arrogance. 

The problem is that in a very small country like NZ consumers often end up with little choice and competition so often ends up being a duopoly, where the two incumbents have a kind of gentleman’s agreement to jointly screw the consumers for every penny – Vodafone and Telecom jump to mind.

The problem usually occurs because politicians can’t help stuffing around with business and giving their favorites a helping hand every now and again, which creates the requirement for the Commerce Commission.

Naturally if Mr Powers was going to lift any regulation and barrier on business. If Mr Powers and his predecessors weren’t always throwing money at business whether it be through broad band subsidies, buying most of Air NZ,  or suggesting they might bail out F&P, then I could understand him also planning to look at the Commerce Commission.

The playing field is skewed because politicians made it that way, therefore we need somebody aggressively enforcing consumers rights, and the Commerce Commission has been doing just that – hence the whining from business to have it and Paula Rebstock (who I think has been a successful crusader for consumer rights) axed.