The Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council will consider a final country of origin labelling proposal at its meeting in Sydney on 28 October 2005, Christopher Pyne, Australia’s parliamentary secretary for health and ageing, announced today (Thursday).

“I will be pursing closer identification of the origins of unpackaged imported foods and would encourage the state governments to do the same at the Ministerial Council,” Pyne said.

“This is a matter of ensuring consumer choice. It is important that consumers can buy food confidently, knowing whether it’s home grown Australian produce or an imported produce.

“A final assessment report will be considered by the FSANZ board at the end of September and then be provided to the Ministerial Council for discussion at their meeting in October.

“Before finalising this report FSANZ will be consulting again with consumers, growers, retailers and food manufacturers. I urge any interested parties to register with FSANZ to make sure that they receive their copy of the discussion paper.

‘The FSANZ consultative process works well. They have already dropped one of the proposals; that consumers ask the retailer the origin of unpackaged food, after public response.

Consultation on the discussion paper will be from 10 August until 2 September 2005.