09 February 2017
Consumer group CHOICE has welcomed the new country of origin food labelling system which will give consumers better information about where their food is grown and manufactured and will see the regulator given a funding boost to enforce the scheme.
The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Country of Origin) Bill 2016, which passed Federal Parliament late last night, comes after a sustained campaign by CHOICE to improve food labelling.
"It's important for Australians to know where their food comes from, we might now finally be in a position to make a more informed choice about the origin of the food we put on our dinner tables," says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.
"With the frozen berry fiasco of 2015 leaving many Aussies to ponder the meaningless phrase 'made in Australia from local and imported ingredients', it was time for the Federal Government to act."
The labelling scheme will require products to include a kangaroo in a triangle logo to indicate if the food is manufactured, produced, packaged, or grown in Australia. It will also include a bar chart indicating the proportion of Australian ingredients.
"The new country of origin labels will be coupled with a $4.2 million boost for the ACCC to help enforce the system over the next five years," Mr. Godfrey says.
"The new legislation is certainly a big step in the right direction.
"We would have liked the scheme to force companies to identify the origin of all characterising ingredients, but we still welcome the percentage rating of food, denoting how Australian a product is.
"It's great to see large retailers such as Coles already calling out the origin of characterising ingredients on pack.
"Unfortunately the new system leaves it up to the manufacturers to voluntarily declare the origin of a product's main ingredient.
"Consumers wanting to buy Australian produce will need to look for the 'Grown in Australia' logo or the 'Produce of Australia' logo."
Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669
Set up by consumers for consumers, CHOICE is the consumer advocate that provides Australians with information and advice, free from commercial bias. As vital today as when we were founded in 1959, CHOICE continues to fight for consumers and uncover the truth. By mobilising Australia's largest and loudest consumer movement, CHOICE fights to hold industry and government accountable and achieve real change on the issues that matter most.