Australia introduces a new country of origin food labelling regime In a joint statement of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Industry and Science, and the Minister for Agriculture on 21 July 2015, the Australian Government announced the introduction of new country of origin food labels, which will begin appearing on supermarket shelves later this year. The Government has not yet released any draft legislation, however it has provided high level details of the reforms, along with the proposed designs of the new labels. These will continue to feature the familiar green and gold kangaroo and triangle image for products that are "made in Australia" along with a new bar chart to indicate what proportion of ingredients are sourced from Australia. Arguably, the most significant change will be to the definition of "Australian made", which aims to increase transparency and confidence in the food labelling system. This will involve removing the 50% costs rule, and clarifying the meaning of "substantial transformation" in Australia. Another key element of the proposed regime concerns "packed in" statements, which will require companies to identify the origin of products that are imported into Australia and re-packaged locally. The Government will also encourage companies to provide additional information, such as listing the origin of key ingredients, thought this will not be a mandatory requirement. Despite the Government's announcement that the reforms will "show consumers where products are made, grown or packaged", the reforms have been criticised on that basis that there is no mandatory requirement for a company to list the origin of ingredients for products featuring the revised 'Made in Australia' label featuring the bar chart and percentage of Australian ingredients in the product, even where the proportion of Australian ingredients shown on the bar chart is 0%. The new regime will become mandatory in 2016 following transitional arrangements (from 3 months to 18 months after the legislation is passed, and depending on shelf life), as well as a phased implementation for small businesses. The likely increase in costs and regulatory burden for businesses is uncertain, and is expected to be passed on to consumers. It is now up to the Commonwealth Government to work with the States and Territories to introduce the new labelling laws. The Office of the Prime Minister of Australia's media release is available here. The new mandatory labels can be viewed on the Department of Industry and Science website. For more information, please contact Anne-Marie Allgrove, Toby Patten, Jarrod Bayliss-McCulloch or Grace Loukides.