Hep. A Chinese berry outbreak turns political with gov’t called to act

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries were among the Patties Foods products recalled as a precaution
Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries were among the Patties Foods products recalled as a precaution

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Consumer watchdog Choice Australia has called on the federal government to take action on country-of-origin food labelling in the wake of a recall of frozen mixed fruit linked to a hepatitis A outbreak.

In a statement, Choice cited the recall of Patties Foods lines that have been linked to a specific source of raspberries in China that reportedly caused 12 cases of hepatitis A at the time of writing. The recall was taken as a precaution and no consumers have been taken ill.

‘Meaningless origin claim’

One of the products in the latest recall, Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries, is listed on the Coles website as being ‘Packed in Australia using imported fruit’.This claim is totally meaningless when it comes to the country of origin of the fruit inside the pack,​” said Choice’s Tom Godfrey.

Consumers shouldn’t have to use country of origin labelling as a proxy for food safety; we should be able to purchase food on sale in our supermarkets knowing it’s safe to eat regardless of its origin​.”

Choice added that a standing committee’s had recommended in October that food country of origin labelling needed to change.

The campaign to promote Australia’s registered country-of-origin certification trade mark, which authenticates whether a product has genuinely been made or grown in Australia, welcomed the renewed focus on labelling in parliament, brought about by the Greens party’s aim to reintroduce the Bill. The Australian Made campaign also called on the government to take action.

Still waiting for government

While we welcome the reintroduction of this Bill, the government is yet to announce its decisions on the food labelling inquiry undertaken last year by the House of Representatives Senate Committee on Agriculture and Industry. It would make sense to complete that review before commencing yet another one​,” said its chief executive, Ian Harrison. 

The current issue with imported frozen berries highlights the need for clearer country-of-origin labelling as it appears consumers may have been confused about where they came from​.”

The campaign backs the committee’s proposal to label food in such a way that highlights significant ingredients, though it doesn’t support the Bill in its current form.

“‘Made in Australia from Australian milk’ for chocolate, for example – as long as all requirements for a ‘Made in Australia’ claim are met, makes good sense as well​,” said Harrison.

“[But] we do not see the value in banning the claims ‘Australian Made’ or ‘Made in Australia’ for food products in favour of the equivalent terms ‘Australian Manufactured’ or ‘Manufactured in Australia’.”

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1 comment

The intent of food labelling Laws

Posted by Mark Collins,

One of the intentions of the food labelling laws in Australia and New Zealand is to allow the customer to make an informed decision. The above story is one of many that highlights the need for urgent change and eliminate the intentional side stepping by operators intent of hiding important information.

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