Food packaging would be stamped with pie or triangle graphs illustrating how much of the product is locally grown under a proposed overhaul of labelling laws.
A two-month consultation study into food labelling regulations has found food can be ‘Made in Australia’ without any Australian ingredients. It also concluded consumers find current laws “confusing and irrelevant” and business considered the existing requirements “burdensome”.
The government initiated the overhaul of food labelling laws in the wake of the contaminated frozen berries scandal in February.
The Department of Industry and Science says the common ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ label is meaningless. It wants to scrap a current accounting production test known as the Safe Harbour Defence, which allows a manufacturer to label their food as Australian made if half the “transformation” or processing has taken place in Australia.
Given the production test includes labour and transport it is often difficult to process a food in Australia made from imported ingredients below the 50 per cent “transformation” threshold, meaning the so-called protection is redundant.
“It appears burdensome for business, yet of little relevance for consumers,” the department’s paper says.
Under new labels being considered, a graphic would included for food partially made in Australia as well as text which would clearly explain what is done in Australia and the proportion of Australian ingredients.
There would be no graphic for imported foods but text would be required to state where the food was manufactured and the origin of ingredients.