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Australian Made backs food labelling bill

australianmadeThe Australian Made Campaign has welcomed the renewed focus on country of origin labelling in parliament, brought about by the reintroduction of a food labelling bill by the Greens party and independent senator, Nick Xenophon.

It comes following news that raspberries from Patties Foods’ Nanna’s Raspberries packs appear to be a potential common link in the imported fruit contamination that has left 10 Australians diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

Australian Made campaign CEO, Ian Harrison, said that while Australian Made welcomes the reintroduction of the bill, the government is yet to announce its decisions on the food labelling enquiry undertaken last year by the House of Representatives Senate Committee on Agriculture and Industry.

“It would make sense to complete that review before commencing yet another one,” Harrison said.

“The current issue with imported frozen berries highlights the need for clearer country of origin labelling, as it appears consumers may have been confused about where they came from,” Harrison said.

The Australian Made Campaign is the not for profit organisation that administers and promotes Australia’s registered country of origin certification trade mark, which authenticates whether a product has genuinely been made or grown in Australia.

For a number of years the Australian Made Campaign has been calling for the regulations under Australian Consumer Law to fall into line with the more stringent rules for using the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo, thereby eradicating critical loopholes that currently exist.

“The Australian Made Campaign supports – and in fact originated – the proposal to draw up regulations to clarify the concept of ‘substantial transformation’ and to specify processes which, by themselves, do not satisfy this test,” Harrison said.

“The proposal to label food in such a way that highlights significant ingredients – ‘Made in Australia from Australian milk’ for chocolate, for example as long as all requirements for a ‘Made in Australia’ claim are met, makes good sense as well.

“We still cannot, however ,support the Bill in its current form. We do not see the value in banning the claims ‘Australian Made’ or ‘Made in Australia’ for food products in favour of the equivalent terms ‘Australian Manufactured’ or ‘Manufactured in Australia’.”

Harrison said that a continual point of confusion for consumers was the use of qualified claims such as ‘Made in Australia from imported and local ingredients’.

The Australian Made Campaign opposes the use of qualified claims unless the product satisfies the full ‘Made in’ test.

“Australian consumers have the right to know where their food has been made and grown, and it is important that we strengthen country of origin labelling for the benefit of Australia’s farmers and manufacturers as well  it is a vital asset in these trade exposed sectors.”

Federal Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is also urging consumers to buy Australian produce following the recall of Chinese grown frozen berries linked to a number of Hepatitis A cases across the country.

“There is a good way that you can avoid all of this and that is to make sure you eat Australian product,” Joyce said.

“I want to make sure I do everything in my power to say to people your safest food is your domestic food. That is why you pay a premium for Australian product. It is clean, green and healthy.”

Joyce said health ministers were considering an import review.

“All the health ministers are now basically getting together and if they want to review it, and move the level of screening up … we are only too happy to test,” he said.

He also backed stricter screening and labelling for imported food, saying labels were needed “that clearly identifies unambiguously, as soon as you pick up a package, whether it is from our country with our strong … sanitary requirements.

“That is making sure that faecal contamination, which is a very polite word for poo, is not anywhere near your food, not going to be put in your mouth,” he added.

He said no products had so far been reclassified as high risk because recalls were still taking place.

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