Media Releases

Sheed urges Government to push on with new country-of-origin labelling laws

April 02, 2015

Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has urged the Federal Government to push on with new country-of-origin labelling following their decision to delay the scheme.

Ms Sheed said she hoped the delay was to ensure the new scheme was suitable and not to placate some food and beverage manufacturers who want the scheme scrapped due to cost concerns.

“The Federal Minister for Industry has said they want to consumer test the ideas they have and ensure the new labels do not break international trade rules and I accept that,” she said.

“We don’t want a knee jerk response from government that is meaningless; we need to get this new system right.”

The Prime Minister pledged an overhaul of food labelling by the end of the month in the wake of this year’s frozen berry Hepatitis A scare.

But a proposal was taken to Cabinet late last month to delay the changes until August.

The new labels would not hit shelves until next year.

“We need to be sure that this proposal is not dropped or watered down just because industry is concerned about the associated costs,” Ms Sheed said.

“This is too important to let it just slip off the radar until another health scare associated with imported products.”

The new labels are expected to involve a simple graphic clearly indicating the percentages of Australian and imported content.

“The reality is there are conditions under which food is grown in a number of countries that are not up to Australian standards,” Ms Sheed said.

"We need a clear labelling system that shows what the product is, where it was processed and where the ingredients were grown to make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about the products they are buying.”

The government has also been investigating app technologies as part of the new system.

Consumers could scan bar codes on their smartphones for an extensive story about the product's origins that would be too long to fit on labels.

Ms Sheed said in the meantime consumers could buy from businesses like SPC, who have introduced new labels featuring the company’s Victorian growers.

“The Goulburn Valley produces some of the cleanest, greenest and safest food in the world,” Ms Sheed said.

“Australians want to buy Australian and support local producers so until a new labelling scheme is introduced they should look to local producers and manufacturers like SPC.”

“The Federal Minister for Industry has said they want to consumer test the ideas they have and ensure the new labels do not break international trade rules and I accept that,” she said.

“We don’t want a knee jerk response from government that is meaningless; we need to get this new system right.”

The Prime Minister pledged an overhaul of food labelling by the end of the month in the wake of this year’s frozen berry Hepatitis A scare.

But a proposal was taken to Cabinet late last month to delay the changes until August.
The new labels would not hit shelves until next year.

“We need to be sure that this proposal is not dropped or watered down just because industry is concerned about the associated costs,” Ms Sheed said.

“This is too important to let it just slip off the radar until another health scare associated with imported products.”

The new labels are expected to involve a simple graphic clearly indicating the percentages of Australian and imported content.

“The reality is there are conditions under which food is grown in a number of countries that are not up to Australian standards,” Ms Sheed said.

"We need a clear labelling system that shows what the product is, where it was processed and where the ingredients were grown to make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about the products they are buying.”

The government has also been investigating app technologies as part of the new system.

Consumers could scan bar codes on their smartphones for an extensive story about the product's origins that would be too long to fit on labels.

Ms Sheed said in the meantime consumers could buy from businesses like SPC, who have introduced new labels featuring the company’s Victorian growers.

“The Goulburn Valley produces some of the cleanest, greenest and safest food in the world,” Ms Sheed said.

“Australians want to buy Australian and support local producers so until a new labelling scheme is introduced they should look to local producers and manufacturers like SPC.”

2 April 2015

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