Have your say on food labelling

AUSVEG today welcomed a new Federal Government online survey that will allow consumers to have their say on the direction of Country of Origin Labelling reforms, but has called on the Federal Government to stay firm on its commitment to give Australians meaningful information about the food they are buying and eating.

"We welcome the initiative from the Federal Government to gauge consumer attitudes on Country of Origin Labelling reforms, as consumers have repeatedly called for meaningful changes," said AUSVEG Deputy CEO Andrew White.

"While we support the implementation of diagrams to display the proportion of ingredients that are grown in Australia, AUSVEG remains of the view that specifically outlining the country of origin of the main ingredients is a vitally important part of giving consumers clarity."

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing over 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers. The concepts laid out by the government include having a bar, pie chart or a map of Australia coloured to identify the proportion of ingredients that are Australian, as well as text indicating both whether the product was 'Made in' Australia and whether the ingredients are 'more than' or 'less than 50 per cent local ingredients'.

"We believe the term 'Made in', which is proposed to be used to indicate where a product was manufactured, is too ambiguous, with a 2014 Choice survey indicating that only 12 per cent of consumers were able to identify its current meaning," said Mr White.

"'Made in' needs to be replaced with more accurate terminology, such as 'Manufactured in' or 'Processed in', so that consumers are not led to believe that the country where a product has been manufactured is the same as where the products' ingredients were grown.

"This must be tested with consumers to make sure we get it right."

"In our view, the percentage indicator would ideally also include greater segmentation than the proposed 'more than' or 'less than 50 per cent local ingredients', so that consumers can make more informed choices about their purchases."

"AUSVEG looks forward to consumers completing the survey and sending a clear message to the Federal Government about labelling reform.

"We believe it is important that consumers have information about both the country of origin of a product's key ingredients and where a product was manufactured."

The country of origin food labelling community survey is available at http://www.industry.gov.au and is open until Friday 3 July.

Hardcopies can be requested by calling 13 28 46.



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