Vegetable peak industry body AUSVEG has today rejected imputations that the recent finding by the World Trade Organisation against US meat labelling requirements would have adverse implications for Australia strengthening its own Country of Origin Labelling laws.

“Australia has every right under its WTO obligations to strengthen its country of origin labelling laws, and the central arguments in the dispute brought against the US by Canada and Mexico would have no impact against proposed changes to Australian laws,” said AUSVEG Deputy CEO, Mr Andrew White.

“That dispute centred on what was by all accounts a complex and onerous labelling system – one which placed undue burden on the industry to segregate stock by origin and therefore created an unequal playing field between imported and domestic livestock.”

“Proposed reforms to Australian labelling laws aim to create a level playing field and protect the right of Australian consumers to make an informed choice about their food purchases.”

“If Australia implements proper Country of Origin Labelling reforms, there is no reason for any challenge at the WTO level, and any scaremongering is completely unfounded.”

AUSVEG is the leading horticulture body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

AUSVEG has been an outspoken advocate for Country of Origin Labelling for decades, and in the wake of the frozen berries health scare earlier this year has been a major voice calling on the Federal Government to meaningfully reform Australia’s Country of Origin Labelling system.

“Calls from the Australian Food and Grocery Council to act in lock-step with New Zealand, a country often used as a back door for countries with low food safety standards to import produce into Australia under the deceptive ‘Made in’ label, are completely misguided,” said Mr White.

“Their arguments based on any supposed cost imposition to Australian food manufacturers are deceptive, as AUSVEG has shown repeatedly that manufacturers often change packaging frequently, including simply for promotional or marketing reasons.”

“Food manufacturers know every link in their supply chain, and Australian consumers deserve to know where their food comes from, including the specific origin of all the key ingredients of any food product.”

“We must ensure greater transparency on supermarket shelves by implementing comprehensive Country of Origin Labelling reform.”


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