Agribusinesses, farmers, retailers, food manufacturers and peak industry bodies are being encouraged to provide feedback on the Commonwealth Government’s new country of origin labelling proposal at a series of forums to be held across the country.
The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said the Coalition was committed to providing consumers with access to clear, consistent and easy-to-understand food labelling in the wake of recent events such as the Hepatitis A outbreak in imported frozen berry products.
Senator McKenzie said as a first step, a number of forums would be held across the country to seek feedback from key stakeholders.
She said a number of forums would be held across Victoria and southern New South Wales over the coming weeks, including;
· Melbourne – Tuesday 28 April 8.30am-10.30am at Cliftons Melbourne (440 Collins St);
· Albury – Tuesday 28 April 1pm-3pm at the Commercial Club (618 Dean St); and,
· Mildura – Wednesday 6 May 8.30am-10.30am at the Quest Mildura (115-119 Madden Ave).
Senator McKenzie said those interested in attending one of the forums could register online at www.industry.gov.au/CooL/.
Senator McKenzie said for those unable to attend, the Commonwealth Government had established an online forum which could also be accessed at www.industry.gov.au/CooL/.
“Australian farmers and processors produce the best quality food in the world and we want to make it easier for Australian consumers to identify their products,” Senator McKenzie said.
“We know price isn’t always the determining factor when people purchase items at a supermarket, with many consumers willing to pay that little bit more to buy high quality locally produced food.
“Consumers are willing to pay more because they know locally produced food is the best available and their purchases help support our farmers, local jobs and local industries.”
Senator McKenzie said the Commonwealth Government had established a working group of Ministers, including the Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce and Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash, to progress the implementation of country of origin labelling.
Senator McKenzie said the working group’s aim was to ensure that any changes to food labelling gave consumers the information they needed, without imposing excessive costs on industry.
“The Nationals have been calling for improvements to country of origin labelling to better support farmers, processors and consumers for many years and I strongly welcome this initiative,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Consumers have made it clear to us that they want access to clearer and more useful information about the country of origin on food labels and I am pleased to say we have listened and are acting on it.
“We acknowledge the implementation of the new labelling scheme will take some time, but we are committed to getting this right and that is why we want to hear from key stakeholders such as agribusinesses, farmers, retailers, food manufacturers and peak industry bodies.
“We want people to have their say and I would strongly encourage those interested in attending one of these forums to register online at www.industry.gov.au/CooL/ .”
Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0488 747 770 firstname.lastname@example.org