Beefing up of food labels a good move

Call to close country of origin meat labelling loophole

CHOICE says unpackaged meat products sold in Australia should be subject to the same country of origin labelling requirements as other food products.

Currently, the only unpackaged meat products that require country of origin labelling under the Food Standards Code are pork and seafood. CHOICE wants mandatory labeling extended to unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken meat in accordance with a proposal by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).*

“Even though we import relatively small amounts of beef and sheep meat, and no chicken meat, the evidence shows that Australians want to know where their food comes from,” says CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just.

In a recent survey of over 900 of its members, CHOICE found that 85% of respondents said they would like to know the country of origin of their food.

CHOICE welcomes the move by a number of big retailers to voluntarily label meat products but says country of origin labelling must be mandatory in order to maintain consumer confidence.

“A voluntary labelling system would most likely lead to a situation where retailers selling Australian meat would display country of origin information while those selling imported meat may not,” says Ms Just.

In its submission on the FSANZ proposal, CHOICE recommends that a single sign could be used by independent butchers to indicate that all meat is Australian unless otherwise indicated.

“CHOICE recognises that independent butchers should not be subjected to costly signage requirements. That’s why we believe a single sign is a cost-effective way of ensuring that people can make informed decisions about the unpackaged meat they’re buying,” says Ms Just.

“We hope that retailers will also support the expansion of country of origin labelling, as increased consumer confidence in the origin of meat will ultimately be a win-win for shoppers and retailers,” says Ms Just.

Read more about CHOICE's position on country of origin labelling for unpackaged meat, including its submission to FSANZ's review. 

Media contact:

Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

*The review of Australia’s country of origin food labelling requirements was triggered by community concerns over the identification of 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.

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