CHOICE calls for country of origin labelling on all meat products

Consumer watchdog CHOICE is calling for mandatory country of origin labelling on unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken products to help consumers make informed decisions about the meat they’re buying.

Only unpackaged pork and seafood are currently required to display labels identifying their country of origin, but CHOICE wants the same on allbeef, chicken and sheep products.

“Under current food labelling regulations, Australian consumers are not entitled to know where the unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken meat they buy at their local butcher or supermarket comes from,” CHOICE policy advisor, Angela McDougall said.

“Closing the loopholes in country of origin labelling will mean that consumers will be able to know whether the beef, sheep or chicken meat they buy is Australian or not.”

CHOICE says feedback from consumers has shown country of origin labelling is one of the most common food labelling concerns, and a survey done in September 2010 found that 85% of respondents would like to know, at the very least, the origin of the ingredient that characterises products.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has made the proposal for labelling on all unpackaged beef, sheep and chicken meat products.

CHOICE says the move was prompted by community concerns over imported beef following the change in Australia’s bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) food safety policy.

It says the change in policy means that countries which were previously ineligible to export beef to Australia due to BSE concerns will be able to access the Australian market provided they meet new requirements.

FSANZ and CHIOCE both believe a single sign could be effectively used by butchers to distinguish which products were local or import.

Image: Lloyd’s List

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