Dole ditches Ethical Choice banana label

Last updated 16:13 28/05/2013

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Banana importer Dole is to stop using Ethical Choice stickers on its fruit after criticism that the labels could mislead consumers.

This week humanitarian group Oxfam released a report claiming that child labourers exposed to toxic chemicals were used to harvest Dole bananas in the Philippines for supply to New Zealand.

Last year Dole was put on notice by the Commerce Commission that its Ethical Choice brand risked breaching the Fair Trading Act.

Among the concerns was whether consumers might think the stickers were certified by a third party and make Dole appear more ethical than its competitors.

Today the company announced that it would discontinue the use of the Ethical Choice label on all future fruit shipments.

New Zealand manager Steve Barton said supermarket group Foodstuffs, operator of the Pakn'Save and New World chains, had asked Dole to support its position over Ethical Choice, and although the supermarket operator was satisfied, Dole had decided to abandon the label anyway.

"This is causing quite a lot of unnecessary attention for them," Barton said.

He said there were a number of inaccuracies in the Oxfam report and Dole was in communication with Oxfam, and would need more information in order to investigate the other allegations.

The company was confident Ethical Choice did not mislead consumers.

"Dole has strict policies and a long track record of leadership on labour and environmental issues," he said.

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