Country of Origin labelling – how to get it right

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From 1 July 2018, Australian businesses will have to fully comply with the new Country of Origin Labelling laws. However food products that are packaged and labelled on or before 30 June 2018 can still be sold without the new labels after that date.   

Do you have a country of origin label on your food? Do you have “Made in Australia” or something similar on your packaging? Or is your food product imported?

You need to be aware that as of 1 July 2016, new laws were introduced requiring a lot more information to be included on food packaging. There is a two-year transition period before the laws become mandatory.

Why are they changing?

For as long as most of us can remember, the country of origin laws in Australia relating to food labelling were controversial. Until now, the laws have been complicated for consumers and food manufacturers alike.

Consumers have been demanding more information with an increasing desire to have clearer and more accurate information on our food.

The new laws in relation to food labelling are set to address this problem with food labels now being required to provide more detail in relation to the quantity of local and imported ingredients.

How are things going to change?

Now, under the new labelling system, businesses that are wanting to use a “Grown in”, “Product of” or “Made in” Australia claim will need to display a kangaroo with a triangle so that consumers can identify the foods’ origin at a glance and a bar chart representing the percentage of the ingredients that are from  Australia.

Therefore, although businesses will still be able to use the “Made in” claims if the bulk of production occurs in Australia, consumers will be able to know whether or not (or how much of) the ingredients are in fact from Australia.

There will also be labels for “Packed in Australia” which will feature just a bar chart indicating the percentage of Australian ingredients and ‘Product of’ for foods products, made, grown or packed outside Australia.

If the products have just been “Packed in” Australia then the labels should feature the bar chart representing the quantity of Australian ingredients, but not feature the kangaroo symbol. 

This article is of a general nature and not meant to replace tailored legal advice.

Sharon Givoni (www.sharongivoni.com.au) can assist with all aspects of commercial law.

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