Australian Government Breaks Food Labelling Impasse

AUSVEG Chairman Michael Badcock, today welcomed the Australian Governments’ intervention to help break an impasse over proposed new Country of Origin labelling provisions for fruit and vegetables.

‘FSANZ’s revised rules only made improvements to labelling of unpackaged food, leaving packaged food barely changed. And this was despite consumer outrage over unclear labelling,’ Michael said.

The Food Regulations Ministerial Council will meet, this Thursday, to vote whether to accept the revised country-of-origin labelling proposal provided by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ ).

‘We were very pleased with the changes made to unpackaged foods but not packaged. Therefore the vegetable industry was asking the council to vote No to the FSANZ proposal. The two could not be separated and we were concerned that if the regulation was accepted that there would be no further work on improving packaged food labelling.

‘But that has all changed since an announcement yesterday by Christopher Pyne, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing,’ Michael said.

Christopher said that, ‘as the Australian Government lead Minister for Food I propose to direct Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), under the powers available to me under Section 11 of the Food Standard Australia New Zealand Act 1991, to consider the feasibility of extending country of origin labelling to products with two or less ‘whole food ingredients’, including a regulatory impact statement, costs benefit analysis and consultation with stakeholders, with a report to the Ministerial Council by the end of March 2006.

‘This now clears the way for the Food Regulation Ministerial Council to accept the current FSANZ proposal which will lock away the gains made in unpackaged food.

‘AUSVEG will encourage FSANZ and the Food Regulation Ministerial Council to work collectively to deliver what consumers and industry want – labelling that provides consumer information about where packaged fruit and vegetables were grown,’ said Michael.

‘The Australian Governments’ strong lead on this issue is a positive step in the right direction and AUSVEG welcomes Minister McGauran’s and Christopher Pyne’s efforts in helping to break the impasse.

AUSVEG has repeatedly called on FSANZ, the Australian Government and state governments to deliver a country-of-origin package that considers the right of Australian consumers to know which country the food ingredients of packaged fruit and vegetables are grown.

‘Made in Australia from local and imported produce’ can currently be used to label products in Australia if more than 50% of the value of the food product is added in Australia, regardless of where the ingredients come from.

‘In reality some of the ingredients could actually originate from another country and the label can still say made in Australia. But is this really what consumers want to know and how Australian is a product like this anyway?’ Michael said.

A recent Auspoll survey overwhelmingly highlighted the value that Australian consumers place on accurate labelling, with over 97% of respondents declaring that they believed that accurate information is provided on where food products are grown.

‘Consumers also supported the notion of a label that says Australian Grown for food that is 100% grown in Australia. They also supported the spelling out in percentage terms the proportion of the contents grown in Australia and the proportion grown overseas for mixed ingredient foods,’ Michael said.

For more information on the Country-of-Origin Labelling please visit the AUSVEG website


Michael Badcock, AUSVEG Chairman on 0438 282 439

George Balyck, CEO AUSVEG on (03) 9544 8098 or 0400117007