Country of origin labelling law clears parliament

Finally, an easy way to spot Australian made and packaged food products.

Shopping for locally produced food will be easier after improved labelling laws cleared parliament late last night.

The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Country of Origin) Act will demystify labelling so that it is easier for shoppers to identify food made and packaged in Australia.

Products manufactured, produced, packaged or grown in Australia will be branded with a kangaroo logo. A bar chart, representative of the percentage of ingredients locally sourced, will complement it.

The new labelling will put an end to confusing phrases, such as "made in Australia from local and imported ingredients". It also stops imported products from claiming to be Australian on the basis of undergoing a cosmetic change when they are locally manufactured.

CHOICE, which sustained a campaign to improve food labelling, welcomes the new law.

"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 Tom Godfrey, head of media.

"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," he adds.

But more can be done to make the improved labelling system more relevant to shoppers. Customers won't be able to tell where non-Australian ingredients originate from, for instance; this information has to be volunteered by manufacturers.

The revision of food labelling laws comes after a number of people contracted Hepatitis A from two ambiguously labelled frozen berry brands in early 2015. The products – Nanna's mixed berries and Creative Gourmet mixed berries – were packaged in China and distributed by Patties foods in Victoria.