NZ government objects to Australia’s new country of origin food labels
New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries has said it is concerned about the cost it will take for its nation’s food producers to comply with Australia’s new proposed country of origin labelling laws.
Announced in July 2015, the proposed laws will require food sold in Australia to include a labelling statement identifying where the food comes from.
Supporter of the labelling reforms, Australian Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce has however said that New Zealand has nothing to worry about.
The labelling changes are currently being considered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with its members (which includes New Zealand) allowed to provide feedback on the possible changes up until 5 February 2016. The general Australian public have until the 29 January 2016 to submit their opinions to the Country of Origin Labelling Taskforce.
New Zealand previously exempted itself from Standard 1.2.11 in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code that required mandatory labelling of country of origin information in Australia. However, the new rules abolish standard 1.2.11.
Other criticisms of labelling changes
Australia’s consumer advocacy group CHOICE and the horticulture growers representative body, AUSVEG are each amongst the organisations that welcomed the new labels with reservations when they were announced in July 2015.
At the time of the announcement, these groups said that consumers will not really know where ingredients come from, since it will only be optional to list the actual country of origin for many important ingredients that come from outside Australia.
Country of Origin Labelling changes overview
The amendments to Australian Country of Origin Labelling include the following:
- The introduction of a new Information Standard, requiring businesses to provide clearer information about the origin of food;
- Removal of the Food Standards Code country of origin standard (Standard 1.2.11);
- Changes under the Australian Consumer Law to be better aligned with the new Information Standard; and
- Changes to the Commerce Regulations country of origin marking provisions – similarly to better align with the new Information Standard and the revised Australian Consumer Law.