Beef labelling brings clarity for consumers

Posted by Josette Dunn on 6th August 2010

Consumers buying meat will find it easier to know whether their beef is best for the barbeque or a casserole, with new beef labelling rules due to commence at the end of this month, NSW Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said today.

Couple shopping for meat in a supermarket

“What this means for shoppers is there will be clear description of beef categories that will assist them in understanding the age of the animal their meat comes from,” Minister Whan said.

“The age can have an impact on the tenderness and flavour of the meat.

“Put simply younger best quality beef commands a premium price, whereas an older cow provides a cheaper cut.

“Consumers will now have clear information to help them decide which beef they might want to purchase to best suit their requirements.

“For example the younger more tender cuts would be best suited for something like a bbq, whereas the older meat tends to have more flavour and be best suited to stews, casseroles or curries.

For a long time industry has self regulated the use of supplementary labelling descriptions which include terms such as:

* Grain fed/grass fed
* Organic
* Geographic origin
* Halal/Kosher
* Aged/tenderised/marbled
With the commencement of the new beef labelling requirements any claims relating to production or processing systems must now be required to be accurate and substantiated.

NSW will become the first jurisdiction to provide enforceable “truth in labelling” requirements on beef intended for sale.

“A consumer education campaign is now being developed to ensure there is no question mark for consumers when it comes to choosing the type of beef best suited to their needs.

“It is anticipated the legislation will commence on 31 August 2010.

“For the first six months there will be an introduction period where the NSW Food Authority will be working with businesses to ensure their understanding and compliance with the new system with a moratorium on penalties.

“The consumer education campaign will then be rolled out in January 2011 to raise consumer awareness and understanding of what the new terms mean.”

“This is a win for producers who were previously disadvantaged by non enforceable voluntary labelling of beef products, this is a win for consumers who can now easily understand what they’re buying and it’s a win for the wider economy because with consumer confidence comes increased sales which will boost the domestic meat market and create jobs.”

Minister Whan said the landmark agreement was the result of hard work by the NSW Government through the facilitation of the NSW Food Authority and close consultation with the beef industry and retail sector.

“I acknowledge and commend the work of Northern Tablelands Independent MP Richard Torbay who first introduced the Food Amendment Bill in an effort to ensure truth in beef labelling.”

Minister Whan said while the NSW Government was leading the way it would continue to seek the involvement of all states to ensure consistency of the scheme.

“We need the support of rest of the country and will actively call for the other states to get on board and bring the benefit to producers and consumers across Australia.”