In a major win for consumers, country of origin loopholes will be closed after food and health ministers accepted the food regulator’s proposal to extend mandatory origin labelling to meat products.
The Forum on Food Regulation, which comprises federal, state and territory ministers, had earlier this year questioned the recommendation by the independent regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), to close the loophole. Under the current laws, country-of-origin labelling is required for all packaged food, as well as unpackaged fruit, vegetables, seafood and pork.
FSANZ reviewed its earlier recommendation that mandatory labelling be extended to beef, sheep and chicken meat and upheld the decision. FSANZ recognised that major retailers are already voluntarily labelling the origin of these products and, under their recommendation, butchers will be allowed to display a sign stating that all meat is Australian unless otherwise specified.
CHOICE welcomes the decision which will give consumers assurance about the origin of meat products. However, we will continue to call for improvements to country-of-origin terminology, which we know is confusing for many consumers.
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