NZ importers fined for failing to comply with regulations

Wednesday, 27 September, 2023

NZ importers fined for failing to comply with regulations

Auckland importers of food products who failed to translate food allergen declarations into English have been fined a total of $28,000.

Tokyo Food Company Limited pleaded guilty to two charges under the Food Act in the Auckland District Court and Japan Mart 2014 Company Limited pleaded guilty to one charge under the Food Act, following a successful prosecution by New Zealand Food Safety compliance investigators.

Tokyo Food Company Limited was fined $21,000 and Japan Mart 2014 Company Limited was fined $7000.

New Zealand Food Safety Deputy Director General Vincent Arbuckle said, “Tokyo Food Company Limited and Japan Mart 2014 Company Limited are New Zealand registered companies and we’d expect them to have known they needed to declare on the labelling that the product contained soy sauce or fish products, in English, so that people who suffer from allergies are aware.”

Food Safety compliance officers studied records from 9 January 2020 to 26 October 2021 which found that in that time, Tokyo Food imported and sold Seasoned Seaweed Salad, also known as Goma Wakame, to a range of well-known supermarket businesses. The labels supplied with their 1 kg and 300 g packages did not comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code because they did not declare the allergen soy being present. Between 21 and 26 October, two consumer recalls of the product were done. In total, 32,796 1 kg packages of Seasoned Seaweed Salad were sold and 7752 packages of 300 g Nobu brand Seasoned Seaweed Salad was sold.

The other company, Japan Mart 2014 Company Limited imported and sold 96 bags of the Calbee brand of potato chips between 2 February and 14 June 2021. A member of the public made a complaint after purchasing a bag and noting the ingredients list in Japanese included scallop and bonito fish but was not translated into English on the label.

According to Arbuckle, in August 2023, New Zealand Food Safety strengthened the requirements for all food importers in New Zealand, clarifying the role and responsibilities of food importers when they bring food into the country, to ensure food is safe and suitable for consumers.

All registered food importers are encouraged to check the Ministry for Primary Industries website to make sure they are following the updated rules.

The updated requirements can be found in the Requirements for Registered Food Importers and Imported Food for Sale.

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