Country of Origin Bill ignites AFGC anger

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th February 2013

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has hit back at new Greens’ initiated legislation regarding Country of Origin labelling regulations, examined by the Senate Committee this week.

According to the AFGC, the Greens reform of the regulations will “mislead consumers”, “negatively impact export opportunities”, and “threaten 300,000 Australian jobs.”

The new Bill from the Greens aims to distinguish between products made from Australian ingredients and products made from Australian manufacturers.

AFGC CEO Gary Dawson said the new bill fails “its own test” by “ignoring the economic value-add” of Australians in the food processing sector.

“Under this Bill, which solely focuses on the origin of food ingredients, chocolate produced in a factory in Tasmania would not be able to carry “Made in Australia” on its label because a key ingredient, cocoa, has to be imported,” Mr Dawson said.

“It expressly bars companies from using “Made in Australia” on their labelling to indicate that the jobs in the manufacture of the product are here in Australia. This will not only mislead Australian consumers, but also remove any export advantage Australian food manufacturing companies have,” Mr Dawson added.

Mr Dawson said that under the Bill, products that would carry the “Made of Australian Ingredients” label would include products that are made of Australian ingredients but are processed off-shore.

Meanwhile, Australian Greens MP Christine Milne stands by the reform to make “a level playing ground for Australian farmers.”

“When I released the Bill we recognised the complexity of the issue, and actively sought feedback. More than anything, we wanted to reignite the public debate and need for Country of Origin food labelling reform, and we are pleased to have done that,” Ms Milne said.

The Greens have launched a Bill for new Country of Origin legislation.