MELBOURNE – Australia released details of a proposed new country-of-origin labeling system. The policy update is aimed at providing the country’s consumers clearer and more consistent labels without raising costs for food manufacturers. Discussions about a new system started in April.
The proposed system is a continuation of Australia’s mandatory country of origin labeling for most food sold at retail. Under the new system, if a product is imported into Australia and later repacked, the label will identify the origin of the item. Consumers in Australia will start to see the labels later this year as some food companies take advantage of the initial voluntary implementation. The mandatory rollout of the new labels will begin in 2016 with a transitional period for retailers.
“In addition to a statement about where the food was produced, grown, made or packaged, most Australian food will carry the familiar kangaroo symbol and an indication of the proportion of Australian ingredients through a statement and a bar graph,” the Department of Industry and Science explained in a news release. “The new system will also see clearer rules around when food labels can carry ‘made in’ or ‘packed in’ statements.”
The Department of Industry and Science cited the driving force behind the new system was public concern over difficult-to-read, misleading or unclear country of origin labeling that has persisted “over many decades.”
“For many years consumers have been demanding changes so that origin claims on food labels are clearer and more meaningful,” the department noted. “They are interested in not just where something was made or packaged but also whether the ingredients were grown in Australia.”