New country of origin food labelling may wait until 2017

Consumers may have to wait until 2017 for new country of
origin food labelling regulations to be fully implemented, even though the Government
earlier said it wanted them this year.

According to the ABC, Agriculture Minister Barnaby
Joyce said talks are already taking place. However, it will take time to make
any changes.

“Those meetings
will go through to around about July, August,” Joyce said.

“And then we will hopefully have it back in Cabinet
around about August.

“Then we’ll have an implementation period which will go
over about 12 months, so it’ll be starting next year.”

As ABC Rural reports, one meeting between government and
industry recently took place in the NSW town of Albury.

One attendee, Jodie Goldsworthy from Beechworth Honey told
the ABC she was hopeful about the possibility of change but was disappointed that
it “seems like the proposed changes are all about adding percentages for
imported versus percentages for Australian”.

The labels will show the amount of locally made content in
products, including diagrams to help consumers. However they won’t let
consumers know where non-Australian content comes from. There will be just an ‘overseas’
designation, not designations for each overseas country.

Goldsworthy pointed out that food grown in New Zealand
adheres to the same safety standards as Australian grown food, but food grown in
China meets different standards.

The move for new country of origin food labelling gained
momentum after five cases of hepatitis A in New South Wales and Victoria were linked to two Patties frozen berry brands.

The berries were grown in China and it is thought that poor
hygiene amongst Chinese workers as well as potentially contaminated water
supplies were to blame for the hepatitis A.

Image: 9news.com.au