Simplot Australia will label its 31 frozen fish products from ‘Made in Australia’ to ‘Packed in Australia’ after the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) raised concerns the fish may not have been “substantially transformed” in Australia.
The country of origin labelling concerns, for products sold under the brand names of Birds Eye, I&J, Neptune and one home brand product, were raised by the ACCC following compliance checks across a range of frozen foods.
The Australian Consumer Law’s Country of Origin labelling provisions state that if a food product, such as fish, “is packed in Australia without being substantially transformed, it cannot display a ‘Made in Australia’ mark”.
Simplot’s brands used fish imported from countries such as New Zealand, South Africa and the US, with the brand owner under the view that “slicing, crumbing and par-frying of the frozen fish constituted substantial transformation, justifying the use of the ‘Made in Australia’ mark”. The company has agreed to change the origin labelling on the products.
ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said the commission was pleased Simplot co-operated with the investigation an agreed to make changes to its labelling.
“On this basis we decided to resolve this matter administratively without taking enforcement action,” said Keogh.
“Country of origin labels are designed to inform consumers, some of whom may be willing to pay a premium for products they think are made in a particular country, especially Australia.”
“Not only can incorrect labelling wrongly influence consumers into purchasing a certain product, it can also give a competitive advantage to those who use the ‘Made in Australia’ label in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.”
All Simplot frozen fish produced manufactured after 31 October will have the ‘Packed in Australia’ mark, however products with the ‘Made in Australia’ mark may still be available in stores until sold out.