Palm Oil labelling Bill snubbed by politicians

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th September 2011

The Australian House of Representatives’ Economics Committee has made a recommendation that a proposed Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling Palm Oil) Bill 2011 should not proceed.

The Private Member’s Bill was rejected by the Economics Committee on the basis that the legislation would require the active sponsorship and facilitation by the Federal Government – which the Federal Government is unwilling to provide.

Last month Australian Food News reported on the Federal Government’s decision to oppose the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling Palm Oil) Bill 2011, tabled by Independent senator Nick Xenophon.

The Australian House of Representatives’ Economics Committee concluded that the Bill would be “ineffective in changing labelling laws”. It also agreed that the legislation will “harm Australia’s international relationships, threaten nationally uniform consumer laws and will not fix the problem of deforestation”.

Key provisions of the proposed legislation would have required producers, manufacturers and distributors of food containing palm oil to list palm oil as an ingredient, regardless of the amount of palm oil involved; and for the Australian Consumer Law to be amended so information of the palm oil content, or the use of palm oil in producing a product (not limited to food), would be a relevant consideration for the ACCC to determine whether a person has engaged in misleading conduct.

The Economics Committee’s recommendation to reject the Bill has been applauded by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) today.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said, “It’s now critical for the House of Representatives to reject this Bill – which is unworkable and will be a significant new cost to industry, estimated at up to $150 million.

She pointed out the Blewett Labelling Review had recommended expanding the ingredient list to require specific types of oils and sugars be labelled to indicate their origin (i.e. palm oil) or type (maltose/dextrose) rather than just listing sugar and vegetable oil.”

However, Ms Carnell said the majority of Australian food and grocery manufacturers have already announced a move towards using sustainable certified palm oil through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), when sufficient quantities become available, or by 2015.

A final decision on the Bill will be made by the Federal House of Representatives.