Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said new food labelling laws agreed upon today at the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council would benefit Western Australian producers and consumers.
Mr Chance said as a result of today’s meeting, country of origin labelling would apply to fresh food, vegetables, packaged and unpackaged goods.
“Much of industry had sought additional improvements on country of origin labelling and the case for those improvements will now be developed over the next few months,” he said.
The council supported the Australian Government’s proposal to direct Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to review extending country of origin labelling to two or less fruit or vegetables packaged together, including where other incidental ingredients are added.
Fruit and/or vegetable whole food components packed together will include frozen, preserved, dehydrated and packaged product, and juice, with a requirement to identify the actual country of origin for each of the two main whole food components.
Mr Chance said although this was not as extensive as he had hoped, it was a substantial step forward, and he expected FSANZ’s work to be completed within three months.
“While the new standard does not extend to identifying three whole ingredients as we had hoped, consumers will be much better advised as to the source of what they are buying, even when that product uses both Australian and imported ingredients,” he said.
“Producers will have the benefit of knowing that their product is clearly differentiated from imported product in most cases.”
Mr Chance said FSANZ also agreed that there were deficiencies in the requirements under the Trade Practices Act with respect to the description of imported product as ‘Made in Australia’ or ‘Product of Australia’.
The Ministerial Council agreed to seek the co-operation of the Federal Treasurer to review those changes necessary to provide consumers with more accurate information, particularly with regard to Australian processed and packaged foreign goods.
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