Time to give Australian fare a fair go

CHOICE uses Australia Day to call for better country-of-origin food labelling

In the lead-up to Australia Day, CHOICE is calling on politicians to act on the overwhelming desire of Australian consumers for better country-of-origin labelling on food for retail sale.

The people’s watchdog says that consumers regularly identify country-of-origin labelling as a major concern, yet decision-makers continue to avoid clearing up the confusion and loopholes in the current system.

“A CHOICE survey found that supporting Australian-owned companies and keeping profits in Australia was important to 83% of respondents.¹ As barbies are held around the country on Australia Day, labelling confusion might mean that people are mistakenly thinking they are enjoying Australian food when in fact they may not,” says CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just.

“Just last month, Australia’s food and health ministers failed to implement the recommendation of an expert on food labelling review panel to clear up the country of origin confusion.”

“We’re shining a light on the complexities of the current approach. For example, the claim ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ does not have to meet the minimum level of processing in Australia to substantiate a ‘Made in Australia’ claim despite sharing those words which are so important to many consumers,” says Ms Just.

CHOICE says the most important issue with country-of-origin labelling is allowing consumers to make an informed decision about the food they buy, including those who may want to buy locally.

“If people want to buy food sourced from Australian farmers or manufacturers, they should be able to do that with confidence, just like people who want to make decisions based on price or nutrition,” says Ms Just.

While food and health ministers missed a golden opportunity in December, CHOICE welcomes the recent announcement by South Australian and Queensland consumer ministers that they would work on a new approach to country of origin labelling.²

“We encourage Australian governments to follow the lead of South Australia and Queensland and commit to improving country of origin labels so that consumers can make an informed decision about buying Australian,” says Ms Just.

¹ CHOICE Member Survey September 2010.
² http://www.ministers.sa.gov.au/images/news_releases/12_01Jan/Food_labelling.pdf

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

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