Plans to require food sold on New Zealand shelves to have country of origin labelling are back on track.

But the rules have been changed to cover a narrower range of single ingredient foods than originally proposed.

The Consumers' Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill passed its first hurdle in Parliament last year, under the previous Government.

The select committee considering the bill has now released an interim report with some recommendations.


The law change was initially designed to cover all single ingredient foods. But the committee now says it will only cover single types of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish or seafood which have been minimally processed.

That means it will apply only to products like fresh tomatoes and minced beef.

The kind of products that will not require country of origin labelling are nuts, seeds, and grains, tinned vegetable and fruit, mixed vegetables, and cured meats like bacon.

Primary production committee chairman David Bennett said the committee had decided to take the simplest approach to the law change.

"We just stuck to very much the basics. It's just to get a starting point…. that is a minimal cost to industry but achieves the purpose.

"The more you go into the options, the more problems that can be raised and the more security you need around the rules.

"Later you can go on to look at those more detailed areas. But because it is a private member's bill and not a government bill we didn't have the resources in committee to be able to do that."

The private member's bill was introduced by former Green MP Steffan Browning, who passed it on to Green MP Gareth Hughes when he resigned at the general election.

Hughes said a majority of New Zealanders wanted to know where their food was coming from, and he urged people to submit on the bill and ask for it to be more comprehensive.

He said the exclusion of products like bacon was a concern because around 60 per cent of pork bought in New Zealand was now coming from overseas.

Under the changed bill, New Zealanders would not know if they were getting pork from countries with dubious animal welfare records, he said.

Country of origin labelling was meant to come into force six months after passing into law.

It will now have an 18-month deadline for the minister to put in place the labelling regulations.

The new labels would then be phased in over six months for fresh food and two years for frozen foods.

National supported the bill at the first hurdle but has not yet decided whether to back it into law.

Some of New Zealand's largest businesses and lobby groups are against it, including Fonterra and Federated Farmers.