Packets of frozen mixed berries, sold under the brands Nanna's and Creative Gourmet by Patties Foods, have been recalled as health officials have linked a number of cases of hepatitis A in Victoria and NSW to the consumption of the fruit sourced from China and Chile.
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.
CHOICE Policy and Campaigns Advisor Katinka Day says that while consumers shouldn't have to use country of origin labelling as a proxy for food safety, Australians should be able to purchase food in supermarkets knowing that it is safe to eat regardless of the origin. However, she does say that people should be able to make informed choices about the food that they eat, and that a simplification of country of origin labelling is key. "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.
"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 is totally meaningless when it comes to the country of origin of the fruit inside the pack," Day says.
Research shows many consumers are passionate about where their food is grown, and where it is manufactured, but are confused about current labelling requirements. A CHOICE survey of 700 members found only 12% were able to accurately identify the meaning of "Made in Australia".
The frozen mixed berries are sold mainly in Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarkets.
Consumers who are concerned about the current recall can contact Patties Foods on 1800 650 069.