The Australian Government today approved a new food labelling system which will show consumers where products are made, grown or packaged.
In February, the government established a review of Australia’s Country of Origin Labelling laws, and today it was confirmed that foods processed locally will have a new label which includes the familiar green and gold kangaroo and triangle icon, with a bar chart showing what proportion of the ingredients are from Australia.
This will include statements such as: 'Made in Australia from 100% Australian ingredients', 'Packed in Australia, Made in Canada' and 'Made in Australia from Australian carrots and French peas'.
Companies will be encouraged to provide additional information on their labels – identifying the origin of key ingredients, for example.
The green and gold triangle design was the overwhelming preference of more than 17,800 respondents to the government’s food labelling community survey.
The new labels will be easy for shoppers to identify and consumers will no longer have to search for country of origin information hidden in small print. They will be able to make a quick comparison of products on the shelves, live or digitally.
These reforms will also clarify the definition of “made in” Australia. Importing ingredients and slicing them will no longer qualify for a “made in” claim. Under the new scheme, if a product is imported into Australia and then re-packed, the label will identify where the item came from.
However, AUSVEG has expressed concerns the package falls well short of a genuine Country of Origin Labelling system.
Deputy CEO Andrew White said the proposed introduction of a diagram indicating the level of Australian and imported ingredients on products manufactured here will mean the only originating country outlined will be Australia.
“By not disclosing the countries of origin of key ingredients in products the Federal Government runs the risk of letting down the people of Australia, who want to know where the food they are eating has come from.”
“Only by telling them precisely where their food comes from can that be achieved. Consumers have repeatedly indicated they want to know the origins of the food they are buying and eating, and that their food is safe.”
White was pleased to see the elimination of the confusing term “made from local and imported ingredients” from labels, but disappointed “made in” has not been scrapped altogether.”
The Commonwealth Government will continue to work with states and territories, whose agreement is required to roll out the new labels.
An initial voluntary take-up of the country of origin food labels will mean shoppers should see changes on the shelves later this year.
The mandatory rollout will commence in 2016, providing manufacturers with time to implement the new scheme. There will be a phased implementation period for small business.