Australia needs to change 'misleading' country of origin labels, says Growcom

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Australia needs to change 'misleading' country of origin labels, says Growcom

The peak horticultural body for the Australian state of Queensland has called for an overhaul of the country's 'misleading' country of origin labeling laws.

Growcom chief advocate Rachel Mackenzie highlights the laws mean packaged and tinned products can have very little Australian content but still carry the 'Made in Australia' label.

"The 'Made in Australia' label can currently be placed on a product if 50 per cent of the costs are incurred here and it undergoes 'substantial transformation' after being imported. Mixing, homogenisation and curing are all considered to be a substantial transformation," she says.

"With relatively low labour and other input costs in Asia and the Pacific, very little needs to be done to a product in Australia for that alteration to account for 50 per cent of costs.

"We think that most Australian consumers would expect that 'Made in Australia' refers to product content, not cost."

In 2009 Growcom called for an 'Australian Grown' definition in a Senate enquiry.

"The labelling of loose fruit and vegetables in stores is also potentially misleading. Under current laws, retailers can label a tray
of product as 'a mix of imported and local produce' with no further explanation required as to whether that means 1 per cent imported and 99 per cent local, or the reverse.

"Growcom would like to see fruit and vegetables in stores separated into 'local' and 'imported' categories, so that consumers are able to make a fully informed decision on their purchase.

"Growcom does not oppose the sale of imported product which passes Australian biosecurity certification, but we think that fruit and
vegetable consumers should be able to make a fully informed choice when shopping and not be misled by labels which very much blur the lines as to the product's local content.

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