Australia to adopt mandatory COOL

Country has designed its own country-of-origin labels for consumers

The Australian government has announced that it intends to introduce mandatory country-of-origin labelling for food. This is an excerpt from a press release announcing the program.

Public concern over country-of-origin labelling has resulted in numerous inquiries, reports and proposals on the matter over many decades without any real change or improvement.

For many years consumers have been demanding changes so that origin claims on food labels are clearer and more meaningful. They are interested in not just where something was made or packaged but also whether the ingredients were grown in Australia.

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The government is determined to deliver better country-of-origin food labelling in as cost-effective way as possible. While we don’t want to unnecessarily increase regulatory or production costs we do want to ensure that consumers get the information they need and are asking for.

We have consulted about the options with the state and territory governments, whose co-operation will be required in order to implement these changes, and we will be seeking their agreement to make the necessary legislative changes.

The government will propose to the states and territories that country-of-origin labelling for food be regulated through a mandatory information standard under the Australian Consumer Law rather than through the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

The proposed country-of-origin labels will include new standard phrases and a kangaroo and bar-chart graphic which is easily identifiable. The government acknowledges that only a small amount of information can fit on a food label. The government will work with industry groups to ensure that consumers wanting more information about individual ingredients, or lists of countries, will have access to online information and smartphone apps.

This symbol and words will identify two key things about all food products:

Firstly, whether the food was grown or made in Australia.

This will be the first part of the standard phrase and the kangaroo in the triangle will show that the food was grown or made in Australia.

Secondly, what percentage of the ingredients in the food/product was Australian grown.

The bar chart will allow consumers to identify what percentage (in bands/increments) of the ingredients were grown in Australia, this will be the second part of the standard phrase.

As is currently the case, the new labelling will only be applied to produce sold in a retail context such as supermarkets, shops and markets. It will not apply to food sold for immediate consumption in the service/hospitality sectors such as restaurants, fast-food outlets, cafés or bars.

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