Irradiated Australian tomatoes are on the shelves of fresh produce stores now, and TomatoesNZ is reminding retailers and the hospitality sector to ensure that produce is clearly labeled as "irradiated".
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) requires anyone selling irradiated produce to clearly label it at point of sale. The regulation applies to any irradiated tomatoes and products containing them, both raw and cooked.
Tomatoes New Zealand Chair Barry O’Neil says consumers want to know what they’re eating and the labels allow consumers to make an informed choice.
Food irradiation (the application of ionizing radiation to food) is a technology that improves the safety and extends the shelf life of foods by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects. Food irradiation slows down the aging of foods such as fruits and vegetables by delaying sprouting.
A consumer survey in 2015 found that many New Zealanders support the labeling of irradiated produce, with 85% of survey participants asking for irradiated fruit and vegetables, and food made with irradiated produce, to be clearly identified.
"If you are unsure of the source of your produce, you should ask the supplier," said Mr. O’Neil.
Irradiation kills bacteria and other pests, including insects, and is required of all tomatoes imported from Australia, to meet New Zealand’s biosecurity requirements. Mr. O’Neil says New Zealand-grown tomatoes are never irradiated and Tomatoes NZ supports measures taken to protect New Zealand’s vulnerable horticulture industry from pests like the Queensland fruit fly.
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