Joyce backed on labelling
Industry bodies have backed federal minister of agriculture and water resources, Barnaby Joyce, for standing up for a stronger country of origin labelling system despite political pressure from New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Ministry of primary industries had said that proposed labelling reforms in Australia would adversely affect New Zealand’s producers, who supply more than $2.46 billion in imports to Australia.
“Minister Joyce’s comments regarding the minimal level of impact that the proposed changes will have on our trading partners echoes AUSVEG’s belief that there is no excuse to prevent the development of a robust country of origin labelling system in Australia,” said Richard Mulachy, CEO, Ausveg.
“It’s imperative that we move away from the confusing and ambiguous system of the past towards a solution that meets the needs of consumers, who have repeatedly indicated that they want a clearer indication of where the food they are buying comes from.”
Australia’s country of origin labelling system was called into question in early 2015, following a health scare involving hepatitis A linked to imported frozen berries. Hepatitis A was also linked to imported berries in New Zealand last year, sparking calls for reform to New Zealand’s own country of origin labelling rules which are currently only voluntary.
“While the proposed reforms are a good first step towards a meaningful country of origin labelling system, more work needs to be done to ensure that the information consumers receive on a package leaves no doubt in their minds of its origin,” Mulcahy said.
Countries such as the Czech Republic have already committed to unambiguous food labelling, after strengthening its laws on country of origin labelling for milk, wine and unprocessed foods.
“A genuine country of origin labelling system must apply equally to all countries, regardless of trading relationships, so that consumers get the information they sorely want and need,” said Mulcahy.
“Ausveg will continue to campaign for effective reform that eliminates ambiguous and deceptive labelling terminology to support consumers who want to make informed decisions about their food purchases.”
Australia’s proposed country of origin labelling reforms, revealed in July last year, are currently open for consultation for businesses and the public.