AUSVEG has backed comments from the Victorian Farmers Federation which criticise authorities over their failure to enforce Country of Origin Labelling breaches.
In an interview with The Weekly Times earlier this month, president of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), Peter Tuohey said that not a single Victorian business has received a fine for breaching Country of Origin Labelling laws.
AUSVEG spokesperson, Michael Bodnarcuk said that the industry body is concerned by the “flagrant disregard” by some fresh food retailers in Victoria with relation to the implementation of Country of Origin Labelling laws.
“These laws were introduced to protect consumers and their ability to decide on the origin of the product that they will consume,” he said.
“Studies have shown that the majority of Australians would prefer to buy locally grown fruit and vegetables and we believe that consumers are being robbed of this ability through improper labelling practices.”
Bodnarcuk said that a strong regulatory framework and proper policing of relevant laws was vital to ensuring that customers know where their food is coming from, and for overall health of the Australian fresh food industry.
“The enforcement of Country of Origin Labelling laws needs to be strong enough to prevent produce of dubious origin being brought in to Australia with ambiguous labelling,” he said.
In July last year, supermarket giant Coles paid six infringement notices totalling $61,200 for allegedly misleading representations about the country of origin of fresh produce in five stores.
The stores are located across Queensland, NSW, Western Australia and the ACT and the infringement notices refer to claims made between March 2013 and May 2013.