Consumers should be the judge of food labelling improvements: CHOICE

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Choice has renewed its call for the Federal Government to test any proposed improvements to food labelling with consumers to ensure the changes are clear and meaningful.

The call follows the announcement that a taskforce of Ministers Joyce, Macfarlane, Nash, Billson and Robb will present a country of food origin labelling proposal to Cabinet.

“Choice applauds the government for taking action on food country of origin labelling. The simple fact is consumers want to know where their food comes from and the current labelling system is vague and confusing,” said Choice CEO Alan Kirkland.

“Importantly we are calling for any proposed improvements to be consumer tested. Labels are meant for consumers, and the best judges of what is clear and meaningful on food packaging is Australian shoppers – not politicians or food importers.”

“The last thing we need is another flawed and confusing country of origin framework that does nothing more than polish up the status quo.”

“CHOICE’s 2012 country of origin labelling survey found that the confusing terminology used is a major source of frustration with 86 percent of consumers saying it is unclear.”

“The consumer testing to develop the Federal Government’s successful health star rating scheme, launched last year, is a great approach that could be applied to country of origin labelling.” 

“We are continuing to petition the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to fix country of origin labelling in Australia and test any new system with consumers. The petition, which was launched a week ago, has already been signed by over 23,000 people.”

CHOICE has called for the following changes to country-of-origin labelling:

  • ‘Product of Australia’ or “Australian produce” = significant ingredients and virtually all processing to be from the country claimed
  • ‘Manufactured in Australia’ = Relating solely to manufacturing
  • ‘Packaged in Australia’ = Relates solely to manufacturing
  • Consumer testing of any changes to ensure they are meaningful

A CHOICE survey of 700 members found only 12 per cent were able to accurately identify the meaning of ‘Made in Australia’.