Australia tightens country of origin labelling regs

Australia tightens country of origin labelling regs

The Australian federal government today (21 July) announced plans to introduce more comprehensive country-of-origin labelling requirements.

While Australia already has country of origin labelling, the government said consumers find current labelling "confusing or unhelpful".

"Australians will benefit from clearer, simpler information about where products come from. It is important to ensure consumers have the information they need to make informed choices about the products they buy. Australians have made it clear they want better country of origin labelling and the government is determined to deliver it," Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said in a joint statement.

Foods processed locally will carry a green and gold kangaroo and triangle icon, with a bar chart showing what proportion of ingredients were sourced in Australia. The Australian government said claims would include, for example: "made in Australia from 100% Australian ingredients; packed in Australia, made in Canada; or made in Australia from Australian carrots and French peas". Imported ingredients used to manufacture product in Australia will not qualify for "made in Australia" claims.

Companies will be "encouraged" to provide additional information identifying the origin of key ingredients, with digital options also in development, regulators added. If a product is imported to Australia and re-packaged, labels will identify where the item came from, the federal government said.

The Australian government said: "The new labels will be easy for shoppers to identify. Consumers will no longer have to search for country of origin information hidden in small print. Consumers will be able to make a quick comparison of products on the shelves."

The move, which still requires approval from the states and territories, is set to start with a voluntary roll out this year with mandatory requirements expected to come into effect in 2016.