AUSVEG welcomes the announcement that testing of imported processed peaches will increase in light of concerning reports surrounding lead contamination in some imported products.

Following the recent Hepatitis A health scare linked to frozen berries imported from China, it is particularly worrying to hear of reports of SPC Ardmona chief executive Peter Kelly having previously provided evidence to government of quality concerns related to imported produce.

“While we commend the efforts of both Mr Kelly and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce for their stances on the issue of imported produce, it is worrying to learn of reports that the government was slow to act on this information,” said AUSVEG Deputy CEO Andrew White.

“In light of the latest news and the Hepatitis A health scare related to frozen berry imports from China, AUSVEG is renewing its calls for more stringent testing of imported goods and clearer Country of Origin Labelling, to enable consumers to make informed choices.”

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing more than 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.

AUSVEG wants to see increased and improved testing of imports at the border, and clearer Country of Origin Labelling that will provide consumers with the clarity they need to exercise their preference to purchase Australian produce, wherever possible.

“We see these measures as vital elements of a consolidated response to recent public health scares linked to imported food, which will help keep Australian consumers safe and informed,” said Mr White.

“Current labelling is extremely ambiguous and often misleads Australian consumers about the real origins of the food they are consuming.”

“The public deserve to know what they are putting in their shopping trollies and we know from numerous consumer surveys that the vast majority of Australians want better information to allow them to make a more informed purchasing decision regarding country of origin.”

With a significant acknowledgement by key political figures, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the issue of Country of Origin Labelling, it makes sense that government will now work toward a more transparent system related to import labelling.

“What AUSVEG would like to see is the elimination of confusing terms such as ‘made from local and imported ingredients’ from labels, and for consumers to be able to unambiguously tell at a glance, the origins of the food they are buying and consuming,” said Mr White.

“There are laws to this effect already drafted and introduced to the Federal Parliament. Now we just need the parties to come together and vote for them, for the good of farmers and consumers.”


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