Clearer food label changes enter Australian parliament

Sweeping changes to Australia’s country of origin labelling programme have come before Parliament, as the Coalition Government moved to deliver on another critical promise, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack says.

“The Government understands how vital changes to Australia’s country of origin labelling programme are and today we have taken another step in delivering on our promise to give Australians more information about the products they purchase,” Mr McCormack said.

The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Country of Origin) Bill 2016 was introduced into the House of Representatives in May, but lapsed due to the calling of the Federal election.

“As the Minister responsible for consumer affairs, I hear stories every day about how consumers want better access to information on supermarket shelves – at a glance – to make more informed decisions about purchases, which is why these changes have been top-of-mind since Parliament resumed,” Mr McCormack said.

“With a third of the small businesses in my electorate being farmers, I also understand how producers right across rural and regional Australia – particularly primary producers – are calling out for better information about Australian products at the supermarket.”

Mr McCormack said the Government has listened to consumer and producer demands for clearer labelling information, including where it is made, produced or grown; as well as understanding consumers’ want for stricter definitions of what “Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients” means.

“State, Territory and Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Ministers agreed on 31 March this year to reform the country of origin labelling system for food to give consumers clearer and more meaningful information about the food they buy.

“This is a critical reform and something on which the Government has focused, following extensive consultation with consumers and industry.”

“Today’s legislation is just another example of how the Government is delivering on its promise to but small business at the forefront of decision-making and listening to consumer and producer demands,” Mr McCormack said.

The Bill is scheduled for debate in Parliament this week. Further information on the labelling changes can be found at the foodlabels website.

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