Beefing up of food labels a good move

Food standards proposal will close meat labelling loophole
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01.Country of origin labelling for all unpackaged meat

What CHOICE wants

CHOICE is calling for mandatory country of origin labelling on unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken products to help consumers make informed decisions about the meat they’re buying.

Currently, only unpackaged pork and seafood are required to carry labels identifying their country of origin, but CHOICE believes this should be extended to beef, chicken and sheep products.

“Under current food labelling regulations, Australian consumers are not entitled to know where the unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken meat they buy at their local butcher or supermarket comes from,” says CHOICE policy advisor, Angela McDougall.

“Closing the loopholes in country of origin labelling will mean that consumers will be able to know whether the beef, sheep or chicken meat they buy is Australian or not.”

What consumers are telling CHOICE

Country of origin labelling is one of the most common food labelling concerns raised by consumers. A CHOICE survey in September 2010 found that 85% of respondents said they would like to know, at the very least, the origin of the ingredient that characterises products.

FSANZ proposal gets CHOICE backing

CHOICE is supporting a proposal by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to extend country of origin labelling to unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken meat products.

Although Australia imports relatively small amounts of beef and sheep meat, and no chicken meat, CHOICE believes that this proposal will maintain consumer confidence when purchasing meat products.

Where did the proposal come from? 

The move was prompted by community concerns over imported beef following the change in Australia’s bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) food safety policy. The change in policy means that countries which were previously ineligible to export beef to Australia due to BSE concerns will be able to access the Australian market provided they meet new requirements.

What you would see at your local butcher shop if the proposal is accepted

The proposal also supports the suggestion that a single sign could be used by independent butchers as a cost-effective way of ensuring that consumers can easily distinguish between local and overseas products.

CHOICE hopes that the move to close the loophole on country of origin labelling will not only be a win for consumers but also for retailers, many of whom are voluntarily extending country of origin labelling and stand to gain from increased consumer confidence.

More information

You can read CHOICE's submission to Food Standards Australia New Zealand.



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