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State support is crucial for food labelling

Ausveg is urging state ministers to endorse the Federal Government’s proposed changes to Country of Origin Labelling laws at the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs, to be held on Thursday 31 March 2016.

After consultation with industry and consumers, the Australian Government proposed a new country of origin labelling system on 21 July 2015. State ministers are expected to make a final decision on country of origin policy reforms at the meeting on Thursday.

“It is imperative that we move away from the confusing and ambiguous country of origin labelling system of the past, such as statements like ‘Made from local and imported ingredients’ which leave consumers none the wiser,” said Ausveg Deputy CEO Andrew White.

“This meeting represents a perfect opportunity for state departments to come together and support a country of origin labelling system that operates on a unified, federal platform that is enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,” said Mr White.

“Australian consumers have repeatedly indicated that they want a clearer indication of where the food they are buying comes from and it is time that this important issue became a federal responsibility.”

While Australia already has mandatory country of origin labelling requirements in place, market research shows that consumers find the current system confusing and unclear.

Although the proposed system does not offer a complete solution to these issues, Ausveg recognises that it is an encouraging step forward to provide consumers with more transparent, informative labelling on the foods they buy.

The proposed reforms will mean that each label will indicate the proportion of Australian ingredients by weight, displayed in a statement and a bar graph.

“Ausveg has been campaigning for reforms to the country of origin labelling system for many years. We will continue to campaign for effective reform that eliminates ambiguous and deceptive labelling terminology to ensure Australian consumers can make informed purchasing decisions,” said Mr White.

“Ausveg hopes that the Ministers involved in the upcoming Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs do the right thing by Australian consumers and support the proposed country of origin labelling reforms.”

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