The recall of frozen berries linked to an outbreak of Hepatitis A may have many of us asking where our food comes from and how safe it is.
Consumer group CHOICE said the recall perfectly highlighted the need to adopt the recommendations on country of origin food labels made in October by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry.
“Unfortunately for consumers the Committee missed an opportunity to simplify the system and this latest issue illustrates the challenge we have in trying to make informed decisions about where our food comes from,” says CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.
One of the products involved in the recall states on the packaging ‘Packed in Australia using imported food’, which does not in any way help consumers to understand the process the berries have gone through and where it occurred.
Mr Godfrey said, “Australians should be able to make informed choices about the food they eat. We are renewing our call for simplification of country-of-origin labelling. It’s time to give consumers the information they want, remove the information they don’t, and test the way we label our food to make sure it’s meaningful. Our research shows many consumers are passionate about where their food is grown, and where it is manufactured, but are confused about current labelling requirements.”
A CHOICE survey of 700 of its members found that only 12 per cent could accurately identify the correct meaning of ‘Made in Australia’. To give consumers clarity when identifying where food products come from, CHOICE is urging the Federal Government to take action by implementing the following:
- ‘Product of Australia’ or “Australian produce” = significant ingredients and virtually all processing to be from the country claimed
- ‘Manufactured in Australia’ = Relating solely to manufacturing
- ‘Packaged in Australia’ = Relates solely to manufacturing
- Consumer testing of any changes to ensure they are meaningful
Find out more about food labelling and the recommendation made by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry at CHOICE.com.au