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New food labelling laws – Are they enough?

Are new food labelling laws enough?

New food labelling laws are being introduced to make the country of origin clearer.
From the 1 July, it will be mandatory for food grown, produced and made in Australia to carry the Kangaroo triangle symbol. A new bar chart will show the proportion of Australian ingredients with the proposed example below.

Food labelling

This is an obvious win for our local farmers, local manufacturers, local workers and consumers although there is an additional cost burden to Australian businesses estimated to be $37 million per year. With the local dairy industry in crisis, this type of legalisation will go a long way to help Australians support our local industries and producers.

According to the Australian government “the purpose of improved country of origin information is to enable consumers to make informed choices about the food they buy.” The original announcement came in July 2015, following a February scare over hepatitis-infected berries imported from China.

food labelling

Food quality

Arguably, the other benefit should be food quality. Local farmers and producers are subject to higher food standards and regulations and in some cases the food will be fresher. Fresher foods have higher enzymes, deliver more nutritional content and generally taste better.

Sounds like a win, win, although the Prime Minister at the time, said “this is about the country of origin labelling, it’s not about food safety standards. People might have different views about where you are most likely to be confident in the quality of your food but they’re two separate issues effectively”
So why is it not about the quality of the food? Country of origin is a great win for consumer’s choice but the single most important factor in our health is the quality of our food. Simply, higher food quality means better nutrition and better health.

“There is convincing evidence that nutrition is a major underlying determinant of a range of chronic disease, and associated pre-mature death and disability… Currently, our social, economic and physical environment promotes the consumption of recreational and non-basic foods that are profitable, energy-dense and nutrient poor.” Report from NSW Government Plan for Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Children, Young People and their families 2009-2011.

So if the new food labelling laws do not cover food quality, should they? Do we look at our food based on the quality of nutrition? Would a food quality rating system help consumers even more?

For more information on new country of origin food labels, see the government website

Proudly published in April 2016 edition South City Bulletin

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