SOUTH Australia and Queensland are joining forces to push for new food labelling laws which give consumers accurate and up-front information about products¡¯ country of origin.
Minister for Business Services and Consumers John Rau said the current system often left consumers with the wrong impression about the true origins of the food they were buying.
He said a recent meeting of consumer affairs ministers had agreed that Queensland and South Australia would work together to develop a new national approach to the issue.
¡°The new national consumer laws have not fixed the problem,¡± Mr Rau said. ¡°In fact, they have
¡°South Australian consumers want to buy local to support Australian producers. Accurate country-of-
origin food labelling is essential to enable consumers to make informed decisions.¡±
Under current laws, the label ¡®Made in Australia¡¯ can be used where even fully imported goods have been ¡°substantially transformed¡± in Australia and 50 per cent of costs of production occur in Australia.
¡®Made in Australia from imported ingredients¡¯ or ¡®Packaged in Australia from local and imported
ingredients¡¯ are qualified claims that can be used where there is uncertainty about whether there was
substantial transformation or questions about the percentage of costs of production that occurred
¡°In practice, this means that manufacturers can get the word ¡®Australia¡¯ on their goods, even if the ingredients are entirely from overseas and more than 50 per cent of production costs occur in other countries,¡± Mr Rau said.
¡°I doubt whether many consumers would be aware that a product labelled ¡®Made in Australia¡¯ could be manufactured from 100 per cent imported ingredients.¡±
Mr Rau said the Australian consumer law also did not include a positive obligation to provide country of origin information on labels.
¡°A uniform approach to country-of-origin labelling is clearly required in the national consumer legislation and we will be working to produce a new proposal to clear up this confusing area,¡± he said.
¡°This new approach should make it perfectly clear where raw ingredients come from, regardless of how and where they are transformed.¡±