New country of origin labelling requirements: What does it mean for your business?

As we outlined in our post in September 2015 the Government has begun the process of implementing the new $37M food labelling project. But you don’t need to panic just yet! The new country of origin labelling laws came into force on 1 July 2016 however, you have until 1 July 2018 to have compliant labels.

What is happening?

The new labelling system requires that all food products sold in Australia identify where food and its ingredients have come from, are made or are produced.

Some producers are already using the new labels, but you may continue to use your current labels provided they comply with the existing requirements of origin labelling standards set out in the Food Standards Code.

The ACCC have made it clear that after 1 July 2018 they will aggressively pursue businesses that do not comply with the new labelling standards. Prosecutions for a breach of the Act will be widely publicized by the ACCC and there will be significant penalties.

A year and half to ensure your compliance may sound like alot of time but bear in mind that gathering the information for the new labels may take some time, you may even need to consider changing how and from whom you order your ingredients.

How to comply with the new requirements

If your food product is grown, produced or made in Australia your labels will need to include:

  • the kangaroo in a triangle symbol;
  • a statement that the food was grown, produced or made in Australia; and
  • the minimum proportion, by ingoing weight, of Australian ingredients, indicated by a percentage amount and shown in a bar chart.

If your ingredients are not sourced in Australia, you are not required to specify the country of origin of those ingredients.

food-labelling-kangaroo

To accurately label your product you will need to know:

  • whether your product (part or all of it) is grown, produced or made in Australia;
  • precise details of your recipe (does it change at any time for any reason? e.g. seasonal ingredients);
  • if you use any ingredients manufactured by a supplier, the percentages of Australian ingredients in that product; and
  • the source of ingredients supplied by each of your suppliers (and have you seen substantiation?);
  • if you use different suppliers for ingredients depending upon the season or price, you will need to know the provenance of each ingredient.

It is important that you consider where all of your ingredients come from and whether you source ingredients from different suppliers in different locations throughout the year as this may change the percentage of Australian ingredients in your product.  This information may take some time to secure and process so it is essential that you begin the process as soon as possible.

For further advice on the new Food Labelling Laws please contact Rebecca Halkett.