Hopes have been dashed that Countdown would consider it unethical to mislead customers about use of unsustainable GMO soy by the Impossible Burger, and would label it voluntarily.
GMO soy is of consumer concern for environmental reasons and many people don't want to support it. The Impossible Burger hides the GMO soy but at the same time make other sustainability claims on its packaging.
A complaint under the Fair Trading Act has been made that consumers who are concerned about sustainability are being deceived by non-disclosure of GMO soy as the major ingredient.
"Countdown were asked to voluntarily disclose the ingredient so customers could make that choice," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ.
"It is disappointing to see a New Zealand supermarket being caught up in greenwash by refusing to tell people information known to be of significance to its customers.
"There is a contradiction in promoting claims of sustainability and the hidden use of GMO soy,"
The intention of the Food Standards labeling regime for GMO products is that consumers will be allowed a choice for ethical and principled reasons, to support sustainability or avoid perceived negatives.
Other brands making claims of sustainability have built consumer trust in meat alternatives and defined expectations of using non-GMO ingredients.
Countdown had temporarily removed the Impossible Burger from its online shopping site. The product has now been relisted but without addressing concern that hiding use of GMO soy as the main ingredient is misleading and deceptive to New Zealand consumers.