Commissioner's Blog: New standard for country of origin food labels
With Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
It is now easier for consumers to know where their food comes from with the introduction of mandatory Country of Origin food labelling which became effective as of 1 July 2018.
All businesses, including manufacturers, processors and importers that offer food for retail sale in Australia, must comply with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard which specifies how claims can be made about the origin of food products.
So look out for the new labels on food packages or on in-store signage to see where the food you plan to buy was grown, produced, made or packed to help you make an informed purchasing decision.
The new requirements apply to most food offered for retail sale in Australia, including food sold in stores or markets, online or from a vending machine.
Food that was packaged and labelled on or before 30 June 2018 can still be sold without the new labels, and the new standard excludes food sold in restaurants, cafes, takeaway shops or schools.
Different labelling requirements apply depending on whether the food is grown, produced, made or packed in Australia or another country; whether the food is a ‘priority’ or ‘non-priority’ food; and how the food is displayed for sale.
When a food has not been grown, produced or made in a single country, it will need to display a label identifying the country it was packed in.
Non-priority foods must carry a country of origin text statement about where the food was grown, produced, made or packed. Non-priority foods include seasoning, confectionery, tea and coffee, biscuits and snack food, bottled water, soft drinks, sports drinks and alcohol.
Everything else is a priority food. For example, priority foods include fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood, bread, milk, juice, sauces, honey, nuts and cereal. If a priority food was grown, produced or made in Australia, its country of origin label will also feature:
- a kangaroo in a triangle logo to help you quickly identify that the food is Australian in origin
- a bar chart and text identifying the proportion of Australian content in the food (if any).
Imported foods must also display country of origin information but, like non-priority foods, imported foods only have to carry a text statement.
Some consumers are willing to pay a little extra for Australian products. Any labelling claim which is likely to mislead consumers will be a breach of the Australian Consumer Law. If you see a claim that you think is misleading or does not comply with the law, then you can make a consumer complaint.
More information, including a short video showing the various label options, is available at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au. Or you can call 1300 304 054 or contact us via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also detailed information about Country of Origin labelling on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s website at www.accc.gov.au.
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