AusVeg calls on Federal Government to act on clearer Country of Origin Labelling

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th May 2014
AusVeg has called on the Australian Government to strengthen CoOL

The Australian vegetable and potato industries have called for consumers to be “given certainty” about the food they are eating, through refined Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) laws.

Vegetable and potato growers’ representative body AusVeg has appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture and Industry’s inquiry into the issue of CoOL, encouraging the Committee to ensure laws were strong enough to prevent “produce of dubious origins being brought into Australia with ambiguous labelling”.

AusVeg spokesperson William Churchill said the appearance before the Committee was “an opportunity to reiterate consumer sentiment for buying Australian-made, as well as show support from the vegetable industry for reform of Country of Origin Labelling laws”.

“We already know that 80 per cent of consumers want to buy Aussie-grown produce, and now it’s time to make sure we have a system in place for people to make informed purchasing decisions,” Mr Churchill said.

“China is already the second largest source of vegetable imports into Australia, however, a trade deal between the Chinese and New Zealand governments also means New Zealand may import processed vegetables, repackage them as ‘Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients’, and send them to Australia,” Mr Churchill said. “It is situations such as these that demonstrate the need for a review of Country of Origin Labelling laws so consumers cannot be deceived by these products,” he said.

Mr Churchill said AusVeg welcomed the inquiry, saying that it was the “first step in a process to bring all groups to the table to agree upon labelling changes that are the least intrusive to food manufacturers, but also allow for simple identification by consumers”.

The Parliamentary Inquiry will investigate aspects of CoOL, including whether the current system is satisfactory, whether there are possible improvements, what compliance levels are, and whether laws are being ‘sidestepped’ by importers through third party countries.

The Inquiry comes not long after a separate Government inquiry by the Anti-Dumping Commission found that imports of Italian tomato products had caused damage to the Australian industry. Australian Food News reported in April 2014 that the Anti-Dumping Commission said that exporters of these types of products sent to Australia since 1 November 2013 may be forced to pay a dumping tax to the Australian Government.