Hepatitis contamination prompts calls for stricter labelling

Consumer watchdog, Choice, has called on the Federal Government to take action on country of origin food labelling following the national recall of frozen mixed berries.

The recall comes in the wake of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry’s recommendations in October last year that food country of origin labelling needs to change.

“Unfortunately for consumers the Committee missed an opportunity to simplify the system and this latest issue illustrates the challenge we have in trying to make informed decisions about where our food comes from,” says Choice spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

“One of the products in the latest recall, Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries, is listed on the Coles website as being ‘Packed in Australia using imported fruit’.  This claim is totally meaningless when it comes to the country of origin of the fruit inside the pack.”

“Consumers shouldn’t have to use country of origin labelling as a proxy for food safety, we should be able to purchase food on sale in our supermarkets knowing it’s safe to eat regardless of its origin.”

“Australians should be able to make informed choices about the food they eat. We are renewing our call for simplification of country-of-origin labelling. It’s time to give consumers the information they want, remove the information they don’t, and test the way we label our food to make sure it’s meaningful.”

“We strongly urge the Federal Government to take action on country of origin labelling and end the confusion for consumers when they enter the supermarket.”

Choice has called for:

  • ‘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

In response to the recall, The Australian Made Campaign has issued a warning to check country-of-origin labelling.

“This issue exemplifies the differences in health and safety standards for the production of food around the world,” Australian Made Chief Executive, Ian Harrison said.

“Australia's clean, green environment helps produce exceptionally high quality food, but moreover, our strict regulatory framework ensures Australian-grown produce is also safe to eat, and we encourage consumers to consider this factor when choosing what to buy.”

The Australian Made Campaign is the not-for-profit organisation that administers and promotes Australia's registered country-of-origin certification trade mark, the Australian Made, Australian Grown kangaroo logo.

“Imported food products which are packed in Australia – as was the case in this instance – do not qualify to use the symbol.”

 

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