When we purchase products, it is only fair that we have the right to know where they are being sourced from. Are they coming from overseas markets, or are they grown here in Australia? Even when we can identify this information on the packet, it is usually on the back of the packet in small writing, and may be unclear as to exactly where the product came from, especially if its a processed food. For example, what is the difference between ‘grown in Australia’, and ‘made in Australia’? A whole lot.
Australia is currently in the transition to make country of origin labels much clearer and on the front of the pack to help identify whether products are made/grown in Australia, or are international imports. These new country of origin labelling requirements first came into effect back on the 1st July 2016, and is currently in a 2-year transition period until 1st July 2018 where these requirements will become mandatory. Reasons for this 2-year transition time is so that companies can sell existing stock that doesn’t have the new logo, to prevent mass recalls for repackaging.
While these labels are changing for the better, it begs the question as to whether consumers will have to pay for the new regulations via increased product costs. The good news is that there will be no extra charge for this added information so we can enjoy added confidence in our decisions without the increased price tag.The Logo & Food Labelling [Internet]. Melbourne: Australian Made Campaign Limited; 2016 [cited 25 June 2017]. Available from: https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0ahUKEwisqJ2mudjUAhWDE7wKHe86BVMQFghDMAM&url=https%3A%2F%2Faustralianmade.com.au%2Fmedia%2F669025%2Famcl_food_labeling_brochure.pdf&usg=AFQjCNEPkWGA1ZdS93JYvuF_wg9wje2pEQ&cad=rja
The new labels
Previously, if a product did state whether or not it was from Australia, it was hard to differentiate between whether it was manufactured here with imported ingredients, or if all ingredients and processing was authentically Australian. In order to combat this and give Australians a clearer, more meaningful way of identifying which products are home grown, a variety of new identification labels have been created to make this process much more fluent.
The new labels are:
- “Grown in Australia” For food where all of the ingredients are grown in Australia.
- “Product of Australia” For food where all of the ingredients are Australian and all major processing has been completed here.
- “Made in Australia” For food where ingredients come from Australia or overseas and major processing has been completed here.
These three labels will display the classic kangaroo symbol as well as descriptive text and a bar chart which will demonstrate the percentage of Australian ingredients. The following labels are for imported or partly Australian products.
- “Packed in Australia” This label features only a bar chart which shows the percentage of Australian ingredients.
- “Product of…” All imported food produced/grown/packed overseas must have their country of origin on the label.
Our processing laws
Luckily for us, Australia’s food safety standards are ranked as one of the best in the world, which is thanks to our authoritative body Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) which maintains the Food Standards Code. These standards cover everything from permitted additives in foods (such as colourings and flavourings) to labelling (such as relevant health claims and allergen warnings). These regulations are all in place to keep our food safe during any point in their production cycle. The Food Standards Code is enforced for imported products as well, to ensure that everything we have access to is in line with our food safety regulations.
Support our local economies
If not just for our great Food Standards Code, why else should you buy Australian grown produce? To help support our industries and economies! When you purchase Australian products, you ensure that your hard earned money goes towards our hard working farmers to support their jobs and strengthen our agricultural industries. With our ever growing population (currently 24,488,273 million at the time of writing this article), it is crucial that we are supporting our own economy to ensure that there will be jobs for everyone.
Loopholes and excluded foods
Unfortunately, there are some foods which will be exempt from requiring an origin declaration, such foods include seasonings, confectionary items (think lollies and sweets), biscuits, snack foods (such as chips and crackers), soft drinks/sports drinks, alcoholic beverages, food sold in restaurants/cafes. With these foods being excluded and most being unhealthy discretionary items, moderation is key here to ensure you are able to make informed choices about your food and consume a healthier diet.
Law in other countries
It seems that Australia has been behind on Country of Origin labelling requirements as other countries have already implemented them. The USA currently practices COOL (Country of Origin Labelling) under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), which requires retails who purchase an aggregate of $230,000 of fruits and vegetables per year.United States Department of Agriculture. Country of Origin Labelling Consumer Information. Washington DC: United States Department of Agriculture; 2016. They also have similar exemptions with restaurants, bars and hotels not requiring the labelling.
Be on the lookout
These labels are currently being applied to products during this transitional period so be sure keep your eyes peeled, and help to support our industries by purchasing Australian!
References [ + ]
|1.||⇪||The Logo & Food Labelling [Internet]. Melbourne: Australian Made Campaign Limited; 2016 [cited 25 June 2017]. Available from: https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0ahUKEwisqJ2mudjUAhWDE7wKHe86BVMQFghDMAM&url=https%3A%2F%2Faustralianmade.com.au%2Fmedia%2F669025%2Famcl_food_labeling_brochure.pdf&usg=AFQjCNEPkWGA1ZdS93JYvuF_wg9wje2pEQ&cad=rja|
|2.||⇪||United States Department of Agriculture. Country of Origin Labelling Consumer Information. Washington DC: United States Department of Agriculture; 2016.|