China uses NZ for backdoor food entry to Oz

ScreenHunter_1369 Feb. 21 13.19

By Leith van Onselen has published a disturbing report today on how China is using New Zealand as a back door to export potentially hazardous frozen foods into Australia:

While a great deal is being said about how seriously China takes the safety of imported foodstuffs (vis a vis Fonterra’s woes) it pays scant attention to what it ships around the world.

The issue of Chinese vegetables getting around Australian regulations by coming through New Zealand has been around for a year or so but it seems nothing is being done to police or change it.

It works like this: Vegetables from China are sent to New Zealand where they are mixed with big name brands and sent on to Australia where they are sold to the unsuspecting consumer.

This is made possible by a loophole in our trade agreements with Australia and also that country’s unwillingness to adopt country of origin labeling. While it is not mandatory here either most companies at least pay homage to it…

Australian consumer advocate AUSBUY told the practice was rife and there was nothing that could be done to stop it.

Lynne Wilkinson said any food product sourced from overseas did not have to be labeled as to where it was from…

Not only are the vegetables being sourced from China they are avoiding chemical residue testing by coming through the back door…

The worst chemical found was procymide in a winter vegetable product made in New Zealand from “local and imported products”…

“Pesticide residues in imported produce is a significant issue [in Australia] as there’s basically no gatekeeper”.

Stories like this makes my blood boil. With Australia’s lax country-of-origin labeling laws, combined with inadequate testing, we have no way of knowing where our food is sourced from or that it is safe.

Not having to comply with strict standards also gives China’s food exporters a cost advantage over local producers, like SPC Ardmona, and is a key reason why they are being driven out of business.

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Unconventional Economist


  1. LOL you’re killing with these titles today UE “back-door food entry” LOL.

    Spot on with your observations, the stuff we eat should be what we have the most stringent labeling/regulations over. That’s one place I absolutely see a role for government/oversight.

      • first I’ve heard about it but will definitely influence all future purchases i make of fresh/frozen food from NZ.

      • If they are smart, the kiwis will start doing the labeling themselves to protect the reputation of their food quality. I’ve stopped buying any frozen food from my there because of this.

      • I am a New Zealand citizen and I started telling my Ozy mates to stop buying this frozen shit from New Zealand a few years back after I found out that they were using Chinese crap.

        Basically, the NZ and AU government are just a bunch of assholes that rip anyone and everyone off for their own personal gain. Every service in government on both sides just sucks and is getting worse. The wealth gap is getting worse on both sides and locals are been displaced on both sides by mass migrations and wealthy investors.

        If you believe in the NZ/AU flags you are really stupid. I personally will only believe in the average NZ/AU person.

  2. Seems over the last 20 years as China has become more dominant in manufacturing and exports, the quality of everything has gone downhill. They cut corners at every turn to make a dollar, even putting peoples health at risk.

    What’s next, exporting their gutter oil for cooking to Australia via NZ soon?

      • Was it not the federal health minister who sacked her chief adviser due to links with food manufacturers.

        Isn’t it also true that she has dropped the very labeling that would have identified food origins.

        Then 3d1k you wouldn’t have to worry when your dinning with Gina?

    • Definitely threatening our health & wellbeing at a minimum – All for the Love of Money!

      ‘But it’s for the good of the economy’……. JWH.

      • GMO is probably healthier than you think, Not that I would want to have anything to do with Monsanto.
        The big one your missing is antibiotic use in farms. The drug resistant bacteria present is a serious danger to human health.

      • Rob JM

        years ago Monsanto brought out “new leaf” potatoes that had been gene spliced with a pesticide that kills off a potato bug, the issue was so bad even the FDA told Monsanto that they had to label the potato a pesticide, needless to say no one bought the potato and 5 years later it was voluntary withdrawn from the supermarket shelf…

        scary stuff.

    • Myne

      have you seen Coles Bleached white Garlic from China?
      this is unprocessed food and still makes it to our shores, it actually looks like it has been bleached. I do not (unless I absolutly have to) buy ANYTHING that is made overseas, except maybe some stuff from the UK occasionally.

  3. I don’t think our new government is going to let a few chemicals on the cabbage get in the way of being “O4B Open for Business”.

    What matters is getting a ‘signatory souvenir” pen for inking some amazing trade deal where we will agree to accept without question higher prices for intellectual property, dodgy food products and anything else that our trade partner wishes to force upon us in exchange for letting their citizens buy our goods at market price.

    “Absolutely brilliant” – As Viivian might say.

  4. Spoke to a banana grower last week who told me ‘reconstituted’ is the same, means it can be from an unknown country.

    So we can add another Bill to the list, “all imported food must state the country of origin.”

    The whole Bill would only take up one page.. only a few minutes to read in the house, another few minutes to vote on.

    • “take up one page.. only a few minutes to read in the house, another few minutes to vote on”

      And that’s your problem right there, lawyers are not paid for brevity.

  5. I tried hard, but I was never able to understand “made from local and imported ingredients” label?

    Everyone knows that without reading a label, so why we have one?

  6. If you’re eating processed, packaged vegetables you’ve only got yourself to blame. Make the effort to get to your local farmers market, it’s a good couple of hours out, the food is great quality and seasonal, it’s interesting talking ot the grower, plus it’s really not that expensive – they often throw in a few extras if they like you. Added bonus is you’re cutting out coles and woolies. Make the effort!

    • “If you’re eating processed, packaged vegetables you’ve only got yourself to blame”

      Bull $hit! In Australia we SHOULD BE ABLE to get Australian or NZ Frozen Vegetables that are freshly frozen immediately after picking. There are many reasons to occasionally want/need to use frozen veg which are fresher than produce that’s been on the shelves/warehouse for days.

      Not everyone can get to Farmers markets – or like ourselves be travelling around Australia with limited space.

      Chinese Food products are potentially dangerous to
      health & we must Object & fight the Ba$%#@ s that are putting them on Supermarket shelves.

      Heads Up– Nabisco Water Crackers etc are clearly marked (small print) on the packaging – Made in China! — One of the Home Brand Ice Creams (not bought) again in the small print states that the Strawberries are from China ! -No doubt fertilized by poo & sprayed with toxic chemicals! We must object.

      • Good points and absolutely we should have what you suggest, cans and frozen vegetables are not only convenient they can be life savers, all our generally should and as you say can be of a high quality.

    • We would love to go to the market but sadly we work all weekend, I would love to see a midweek market in Woodend as well, it works very well for Altona and we use to go there every week and got on great speaking terms with a local farmer that sold his veggies there.

  7. Of course our dim politicians will do nothing – free market delusions and all that.

    Watched a documentary a while ago on food production in China. Would never eat anything from either China or India.

    All the Chinese have done is aped our system and then debased it – they live in pollution, get fat, get stuck in traffic jams and are up to their eyeballs in debt – progress??

  8. I would be watching out for any packaged fish from the major supermarkets as well. If you check the packaging most of its from SE Asia. I would be going for the fish caught between here and Antarctica , I bet its safer. “Basa” that you see is catfish from around the Mekong Delta. THe lord only knows the contaminants and sewerage that would be in the water there and they are selling us this. Cheap food is becoming poisonous food.

  9. Lets have a real discussion on the incentives behind why suppliers do this sort of thing rather than the symptom of inferior imports from China.


    Despite the RBA not being able to ‘see’ it, inflation is everywhere and creating enourmous pressures for anything outside of the financial economy.

    For the same price suppliers can’t supply goods of the same quality so rather than increase the price (that consumers may/may not tolerate in terms of market share) they reduce the quality and hope the consumer doesn’t notice.
    This entire process is hidden from the so-called inflation ‘metrics.’

  10. V…. Spot on …but it’s good for future GDP. Once we are poisoned we will ” consume” a lot more drugs and health services, that otherwise would not have been used. Throw that in with all the shoddy buildings in this housing boom that will need to be pulled down and replaced prematurely and you can imagine the backslapping and self congratulations from our future ” Dear Leader’s” in MartinPlace.

  11. It’s disgusting, and yet awareness of how compromised the food industry is is very low.

    This is also another form of hidden inflation. When we look at the price of food, the price of healthy, non-contaminated produce is actually very high and rising.

    Plastics and chemicals are the new sewage, humans are back to a point where there were once with raw sewage running down the streets and into the rivers. It really is time to stop talking on this and act, but the time and determination it took Bazalgette to overcome the ignorance and greed of the London establishment is a warning to the scale of the challenge in addressing the problem.