April 1, 2016
The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says shoppers will find out exactly how Australian their packaged food is, under sweeping changes to country of origin food labelling.
Mr Chester has welcomed today’s agreement by the states and territories to the reforms, which will give consumers clearer and more meaningful information about the products they buy.
Today’s agreement comes after decades of frustration on the part of consumers that country of origin information for packaged food is misleading and confusing.
Mr Chester said country of origin labelling was an important issue for Gippslanders, who were proud to come from a region that produced world-class food and beverage products.
“This is yet another great outcome for Australians from the $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, delivered by The Nationals as part of the Coalition Government,” Mr Chester said.
“The new food labelling system will give Australian consumers the clarity they deserve, without imposing an excessive burden on businesses.
“Consumers deserve peace of mind about labels claiming that a product is ‘Made in’ or a ‘Product of’ Australia – and the new system will ensure that’s the case.”
Mr Chester said many foods found on Australian retail shelves would be required to include a kangaroo in a triangle logo to indicate if the food is made, produced or grown in Australia.
“The new system will also include a bar chart indicating the proportion of Australian ingredients,” Mr Chester said.
“This will make it much easier for consumers to choose which product they want to buy, armed with the knowledge of where it has been grown and packaged.”
The reforms will be introduced from 1 July with labels expected to appear in retail outlets later this year.
The Government has provided the ACCC with additional funding of $4.2 million over five years to undertake compliance and enforcement activities in relation to the new requirements.
Mr Chester said he remained supportive of the push to also include country-of-origin labelling on cooked seafood found in restaurants.
“At the moment, we don’t whether the flathead tails being served in a fast-food restaurant is from South America or Lakes Entrance, unless it is specified,” Mr Chester said.
“The fact remains that 70 per cent of the seafood consumed in Australia is from overseas, and diners have a right to know where the ‘catch of the day’ was caught.
“I look forward to continue lending my support to Gippsland commercial fishers who are calling for the country of origin labelling reforms to be extended to cooked seafood in restaurants, hotels and clubs.”