Country of Origin best placed with Agriculture
AUSVEG believes carriage of Australia’s Country of Origin Labelling laws should be included under the Federal Agriculture portfolio following the Hepatitis health scare linked to imported Chinese berries.
In the wake of the alarming incident AUSVEG has led a chorus of calls for tougher labelling laws to be introduced, to provide clarity to consumers about the origins of their food, and allow them to exercise their preference for buying Australian produce.
“We welcome Federal Agriculture Minister, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce’s acknowledgement of the importance of Country of Origin Labelling in relation to the imported berry incident,” said AUSVEG CEO Richard Mulcahy.
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
“Given that the Minister has stated his desire to see the introduction of a labelling system that is clear and unambiguous for consumers, AUSVEG would support any moves to transfer responsibility for Country of Origin Labelling to the Agriculture portfolio.”
“We note also a proposal for a clearer labelling system was included in the Minister’s Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper released last year.”
“AUSVEG has long called for action on clearer Country of Origin Labelling laws, and if transferring portfolio responsibility from Industry and Health to Agriculture is what it takes to achieve that, then we are supportive.”
“Among the changes AUSVEG would like to see are larger labels prominently displayed on packaging, as well as the elimination of confusing terms such as ‘made from local and imported ingredients’.”
Mr Mulcahy added it also made sense for responsibility for Country of Origin Labelling to be included under Agriculture, given the department already had responsibility for areas such as biosecurity, quarantine and export certification.
“In the wake of this concerning incident involving imported berries from China, it makes sense that the elements of the response are consolidated under the one portfolio,” said Mr Mulcahy.
“While it is disappointing that it has taken an incident such as this to draw attention to significant shortfalls in the monitoring of imported produce and our Country of Origin Labelling laws, we hope some good can come from the situation through the introduction of more robust systems.”
Yesterday, AUSVEG also called on consumers to get behind a petition launched by advocacy group CHOICE, to have the government introduce clearer Country of Origin Labelling laws.
CHOICE is now seeking 7,000 participants having already surpassed its initial 5000 target to petition Minister Joyce, to have the government act on CoOL via the link http://choice.good.do/CoOL/write-to-barnaby-joyce.
MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew MacDonald, AUSVEG Manager – Communications
Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0406 836 330 Email: email@example.com