AUSVEG is unimpressed by Prime Minister Abbott’s comments today inferring that price concerns should be a major point of consideration in discussions surrounding strengthening Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) laws.

The comments were made following the Hepatitis health scare linked to imported frozen berries and are in conflict with Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce’s acknowledgement of the importance of clarity when dealing with product labelling.

“Calls to strengthen Country of Origin Labelling laws are first and foremost for the protection of all Australian consumers of fresh and frozen produce,” said AUSVEG CEO, Richard Mulcahy.

“Prime Minister Abbott’s unhelpful remarks complicate an already concerning situation for those affected by this wide-ranging scare.”

“While acknowledging that more can be done, Mr Abbott is teetering over the edge of his “balancing act” by putting a price on consumer health.”

“The Australian vegetable and potato industries believe in full accountability from businesses producing, distributing and importing fresh and frozen foods, but this does not mean that government should not also stand up by increasing biosecurity measures and working to ensure a more transparent Country of Origin Labelling system.”

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

Clearer Country of Origin Labelling will allow Australian consumers to make informed choices about the products that they are buying.

“The massive ambiguity that exists with current labelling must be put to an end to give consumers a proper choice when it comes to purchasing of food items,” said Mr Mulcahy.

“A plethora of consumer studies have shown that Australians want to buy Australian made, and we are calling for government and businesses to give them this opportunity.”

“In the wake of this serious health scare involving imported foreign product, AUSVEG will continue working hard to ensure we get the Country of Origin Labelling laws we need to ensure Australian growers are operating on a level playing field, and that consumers are given the information they need to buy Australian produce wherever possible.”

The high-quality of Australian produce being grown in this country means locally-grown vegetables have an enviable clean, green and safe reputation.

“The stellar reputation of Australian produce is something that should be celebrated in this country by all members of government, who we urge to support calls for clearer labelling.”


MEDIA CONTACT:  Andrew MacDonald, AUSVEG Manager- Communications

Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0406 836 330, Email: