Reports today that some fresh food markets and smaller retailers are ignoring Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) laws have highlighted the need for all products to be clearly labelled, says AUSVEG.
“While larger retailers tend to comply with current regulations, AUSVEG has previously raised concerns that some smaller, independent operators may not be meeting obligations in terms of the labelling of fresh produce,” said AUSVEG Public Affairs Manager William Churchill.
“Today’s reports would appear to validate that concern.”
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
Under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, signage identifying a product’s country or countries of origin must accompany fresh produce being sold by retailers.
Mr Churchill said consumers had the right to know where the produce they were purchasing originated.
“The vast majority of Australian consumers have clearly indicated that, wherever possible, they want to purchase fresh Australian vegetables and fruit,” said Mr Churchill.
“To not clearly label produce robs them of that opportunity and hurts the Australian industry in the process.”
Earlier this month, AUSVEG representatives appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture and Industry’s Inquiry in to CoOL, to appeal for consumers to be given greater certainty about the food they are eating, through refined labelling laws.
“AUSVEG also encouraged the Committee to ensure laws are strong enough to prevent produce of dubious origin being brought in to Australia with ambiguous labelling,” said Mr Churchill.
“Under the current system, it is possible for processed vegetables to be imported to New Zealand from China, before being repackaged with some local produce and sent here labelled ‘Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients’.”
“We are hopeful that situations such as these can be avoided in the future through clearer Country of Origin Labelling laws.”
MEDIA CONTACT: William Churchill, Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0411 166 748, Email: email@example.com