Two New Zealand food importers have been fined for failing to translate allergen declarations into English, following product recalls by Tokyo Food Company and Japan Mart 2014 Company.
Tokyo Food Company imported and sold Seasoned Seaweed Salad, also known as Goma Wakame, to various supermarkets between January 9, 2020, and October 26, 2021. The labels on their 1-kilogram and 300-gram packages did not declare the allergen soy, which led to two product recalls. Following a successful prosecution by New Zealand Food Safety compliance investigators, the company was fined NZ $21,000.
Japan Mart 2014 Company imported and sold 96 bags of Calbee brand potato chips between February 2 and June 14, 2021. A member of the public made a complaint after buying a bag and noting the ingredients list in Japanese included scallop and bonito fish, but this information was not translated into English on the label. The company was fined NZ $7,000.
A representative for New Zealand Food Safety said that as registered New Zealand companies, the businesses should have known they needed to declare the presence of soy and fish in English so that people with allergies have access to the information they need to make informed choices.
In August 2023, New Zealand Food Safety strengthened the requirements for food importers. The changes clarify the role and responsibilities of importers when they bring food into the country. The updated requirements can be found in the Requirements for Registered Food Importers and Imported Food for Sale.