Following the well-publicized Hepatitis A/frozen berries episode in 2015 and mounting consumer concern, the Country of Origin Food Labelling Standard 2016 (“Information Standard”) was introduced under the Australian Consumer Law on 1 July 2016. The purpose of the Information Standard is to empower consumers to make informed food choices by providing them clear information about where food is produced, grown, made and packaged. It also aims to provide businesses with greater certainty about the claims they can make regarding the country of origin of the food they supply.
Under the Information Standard, various labelling requirements will apply depending where food is grown, produced, made and packaged. Most food grown, produced, made and packaged within Australia will be required to carry labels with a standard mark and a statement of the proportion of Australian ingredients in the food and a country of origin statement. Conversely, food grown, produced, made and packaged overseas will generally require a country of origin statement and may also include a statement of the proportion of Australian ingredients in the food, if any.
The Information Standard imposes country of origin labelling requirements on most food sold through retail outlets, although it does not require country of origin labelling for food sold in places like restaurants, cafes, take-away shops or schools.
Requirements for standard marks and the country of origin statements are voluntary in the case of non-priority foods. Non-priority foods include items such as confectionery, tea and coffee and seasoning.
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