Australian origin labelling proposals could go further, say farmers

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Australia will begin the mandatory roll out of country of origin labels on food in 2016
Australia will begin the mandatory roll out of country of origin labels on food in 2016

Related tags Australia

Australian farmers have highlighted the failure of legal proposals to make the labelling of the origin of key ingredients mandatory.

​It is important for consumers to know where their food originates, because it helps them make informed decisions about what products to buy,​said New South Wales Farmers' horticulture chair Brett Guthrey.

“However, our association believes the transparency deserved for Australian consumers includes the identification of where these key ingredients have been grown.”

However, aside from that aspect, Guthrey welcomed the new labelling laws, which will highlight exactly where the country of origin is on products, including meat, as did the Australian food industry.

The Australian government announced plans this week for the new country-of-origin food labels, which will, with voluntary take-up, begin to appear on supermarket shelves later this year.

Mandatory roll-out

The mandatory roll-out will commence in 2016, providing manufacturers with time to implement the new scheme.

The system will show consumers where products are made, grown or packaged. Foods processed locally will have a new label, which includes a green and gold kangaroo and triangle icon, with a bar chart showing what proportion of the ingredients are from Australia.

This will include, for example, ‘made in Australia from 100% Australian ingredients’ or ‘packed in Australia, made in Canada’. Companies will be encouraged to provide additional information on their labels, such as identifying the origin of key ingredients.

'Great step forward'

Andrew Spencer, CEO of Australian Pork Limited, said it was a “great step forward”​. “The new system does not allow imported pork products made into bacon or ham, with a ‘made in Australia’ claim on its own. If imported pork is cured sliced and packaged in Australia, it can have a green kangaroo label that says ‘made in Australia from imported pork’.”

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) CEO Simon Talbot said this would provide consumers with a clearer understanding of where their food comes from.

“The NFF, together with the Australian community, expressed their concerns that the former labelling system contributed to a level of confusion among consumers, rather than informing them as to the true origins of the food they consume,”​ Talbot said. “We are particularly pleased with the sliding scale to help inform consumers about the proportion of local or imported ingredients in certain products.”

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