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Farmers Call for Better Food Labelling for Consumers

20 July 2012, at 9:14am

AUSTRALIA - Grassroots members of New South Wales (NSW) Farmers’ Association today called for a better standard of food labelling so that consumers know exactly how much of their product is Australian grown, produced and processed.

Farmers from throughout NSW who are gathered at Chatswood in Sydney for their annual two-day conference, passed a motion today that current labelling practices were misleading about the country or origin of ingredients used in production.

Mr Bill McDonnell, chair of NSW Farmers’ business, economics and trade committee, said that currently all packaged food must carry a statement identifying the country where the food was produced, made or packaged.

He said that although Australian Consumer Law sets out the rules for ‘product of’ and ‘made in’, consumers could not be sure about the percentage of the product that was actually home-grown.

“If consumers had more information on this, food labelling would be more transparent and that would help them in their decision making process,” Mr McDonnell said.

At present, the country of origin labelling applied to unpackaged fresh and processed fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, fresh pork and preserved pork products such as bacon and ham. However, there are no such labelling requirements for unpackaged beef, chicken or lamb products.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is considering extending country of origin labelling requirements to these products and if it goes ahead, this will bring these meats into line with requirements for unpackaged pork.

NSW Farmers’ CEO, Mr Matt Brand, said NSW Farmers’ conference was an annual opportunity for grassroots members to represent their regions and to come together to develop policy for the organisation for the coming 12 month period.

“Now more than ever, farmers of NSW need a united voice because agriculture is facing many threats and unity of purpose and scale is extremely important for achieving outcomes for our members,” he said.

Agriculture contributed more than A$14.5 billion or 3.4 per cent to the NSW economy in June 2011. There are more than 43,500 farm businesses in NSW with farming land covering more than 72 per cent of the state.