The Australian Made, Australian Grown Campaign (AMAG) has reiterated its call for tougher food labelling laws following the release of the Final Report of the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy.
While welcoming the panel’s three country-of-origin labelling recommendations, AMAG Chief Executive, Ian Harrison, insists they need to be extended even further so consumers are given clear and consistent information with which to make informed choices.
“The term `Made in Australia’ should not be allowed to be used in a qualified claim such as `Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ as shoppers find this confusing. Food products, which don’t meet the full criteria set out in the Australian Consumer Law should be labelled with an alternative claim, for example `packaged in’ or `blended in’,” Mr Harrison says.
“Likewise, a food product should not be able to carry the `Australian made’ claim when it contains mainly imported ingredients, which have simply been mixed or blended, seasoned, cured or homogenised here. Processes such as these should not be classed as substantial transformation.”
“We are in the process of amending the AMAG Code of Practice to exclude these processes from the definition of substantial transformation – the Government should do likewise with the Food Standards Code. Then consumers can be sure the major or characterising ingredient has been sourced locally and the product made or grown here,”he says.
AMAG is a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness of genuine Australian goods carrying the green and gold Australian country of origin logo. AMAG (www.australianmade.com.au) is the most trusted and recognised country-of-origin symbol for Australia and can now be found on more than 10,000 products sold here and around the world.
AUSVEG has cautiously welcomed the broad recommendations contained in the report, but is disappointed that the report does not examine Country of Origin issues in enough detail to be effective.
AUSVEG Communications and Public Affairs Manager Hugh Tobin said that given the review had failed to make the detailed recommendations needed, it required re-focusing on solutions.
“A more action-orientated look at the issue of Country of Origin labelling is required to ensure Australian consumers receive a fair go. We already know this is an important issue. What’s needed now is a comprehensive plan, which addresses the shortcomings in current regulations and laws,” Mr Tobin said.
AUSVEG is the national peak industry body representing the interests of over 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.
“It’s vital that consumers are able to make informed purchasing decisions. From the vegetable industry’s perspective, we are keen to see how clearer and more understandable labelling changes can be produced as a result of these broad recommendations,” Mr Tobin said.