CHOICE’s Country of Origin push, so what’s new?

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 30th January 2013

Following the gazettal of new Country of Origin labelling requirements for unpackaged meat this month and the October 2012 launch of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) guide to interpreting country-of-origin claims, consumer group CHOICE has proposed further reforms “to simplify origin claims”.

Angela McDougall, CHOICE’s food policy advisor, claims that the current origin labelling provisions are still “confusing with a proliferation of vague and muddy claims”.

Under CHOICE’s new proposal, the claim ‘Made from local and imported ingredients’ would not be permitted.

However, CHOICE’s proposal comes not long after a very substantial and expensive review of Australia’s labelling laws by the Australian government.

In a submission to that review in 2011 undertaken by a panel led by Dr Neal Blewett, CHOICE had already called for all packaged foods to carry country of origin labelling and more qualified and specific ‘Made in’ claims.

The Blewett Panel’s final report, known as the Labelling Logic Report, did recommend a further review of Australia’s current country of origin labelling scheme. However, the government ministers comprising the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation rejected the notion.  

CHOICE is seeking a change of heart from government and will need to find new ears in Canberra to take action.