16 February 2015
CHOICE is calling on the Federal Government to take action on country of origin food labelling following the national recall of frozen mixed berries.
The recall comes in the wake of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry’s recommendations in October last year that food country of origin labelling needs to change.
“Unfortunately for consumers the Committee missed an opportunity to simplify the system and this latest issue illustrates the challenge we have in trying to make informed decisions about where our food comes from,” says CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.
“One of the products in the latest recall, Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries, is listed on the Coles website as being ‘Packed in Australia using imported fruit’. This claim is totally meaningless when it comes to the country of origin of the fruit inside the pack.”
“Consumers shouldn’t have to use country of origin labelling as a proxy for food safety, we should be able to purchase food on sale in our supermarkets knowing it’s safe to eat regardless of its origin.”
“Australians should be able to make informed choices about the food they eat. We are renewing our call for simplification of country-of-origin labelling. It’s time to give consumers the information they want, remove the information they don’t, and test the way we label our food to make sure it’s meaningful.”
“Our research shows many consumers are passionate about where their food is grown, and where it is manufactured, but are confused about current labelling requirements.”
“We strongly urge the Federal Government to take action on country of origin labelling and end the confusion for consumers when they enter the supermarket.”
“Consumer research must be undertaken before making any changes to the current labelling framework.”
CHOICE has called for:
- ‘Product of Australia’ or “Australian produce” = significant ingredients and virtually all processing to be from the country claimed
- ‘Manufactured in Australia’ = Relating solely to manufacturing
- ‘Packaged in Australia’ = Relates solely to manufacturing
- Consumer testing of any changes to ensure they are meaningful
A CHOICE survey of 700 members found only 12% were able to accurately identify the meaning of “Made in Australia”.
CHOICE wants a clearer and more simplified labelling system. We welcome that the Committee has acknowledged the current system as confusing but call for a solution based on consumer expectations.
The Committee’s proposal allows for three premium claims:
1. ‘Grown in’ – 100 per cent content from the country specified;
2. ‘Product of’ – 90 per cent content from the country specified;
3. ‘Made in [country] from [country] ingredients’ – 90 per cent content from the country specified;
For products which can’t make these premium claims, the Committee recommends two qualified claims:
1. ‘Made in [country] from mostly local ingredients’ – more than 50 per cent Australian content;
2. ‘Made in [country] from mostly imported ingredients’ – less than 50 per cent Australian content.
3. “Most consumers won’t know that ’made in Australia from mostly local ingredients‘ is any different from ’Made in Australia from Australian ingredients’.
 Submission to House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry Inquiry into country of origin food labelling 2014
 Country of origin a source of confusion