The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed two policy reforms announced that will provide Australian consumers with clearer and more consistent information about the food they put in their shopping trolleys.
New country of origin labelling (CoOL) rules and a new national code on what qualifies an egg as free range were finalised in Canberra at a meeting earlier today of the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs.
Under the new CoOL system, there will be mandatory country of origin labelling for most food offered for retail in Australian. Additionally, most Australian food will carry the familiar kangaroo symbol and an indication of the proportion of Australian ingredients by weight through a statement and a bar graph.
NFF Chief Executive, Tony Mahar, said the reforms of country of origin labelling were welcome steps towards improving the clarity of information available to consumers in what was a complex policy area.
“This is an incredibly complicated and difficult issue given these rules apply not only to simple, single ingredient products but also to more constructed products like pizzas and yogurt,” Mr Mahar said.
“These changes follow what has been a long and open consultation process run by the Government to improve the policy surrounding what we know seems simple but is much more difficult to apply.”
However, Mr Mahar said some measures would be required to support transition to the new rules.
“There is a need for an education campaign to inform consumers of the changes and to explain how various words and phrases, for example ‘made in’ and ‘product of’, are now used while a transition period of two years would ease implementation for manufacturers in some industries,” he said.
Meanwhile, the new national definition for free range eggs will require hens to have meaningful and regular access to the outdoors, with outdoors stocking of no more than one hen per square metre at a maximum of 10,000 hens per hectare.
“This will be the first time there will be a definition of free range for the egg industry that is consistent across jurisdictions so that egg consumers in every state can have a clear understanding of what free range means and how their eggs have been produced.
“The interest consumers take in where and how their food is produced is ever increasing and it is important to our sector that we provide our customers with the information they want and need.
“We know Australia produces world-leading products of unmatched quality and safety and both of the measures announced today take important steps towards improving consumers’ capacity to make informed choices about the food they buy,” Mr Mahar said.
Source – NFF