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Goodwill holds 'key to truth' in food labelling

27 June, 2014

The AMWU has pressed federal MPs to ride the wave of public goodwill shown in the SPC saga to reform misleading food labelling laws so "Made in Australia" has real meaning.

The big boost in SPC sales to help save the company had proven that if Australians know a product is grown and manufactured in this country they are willing to buy it, AMWU National Foods Secretary Tom Hale told a parliamentary committee.
"Woolworths and Coles have been making a big deal about the fact 'we sell Australian products'," he said.
"Proper labelling gives manufacturers who are genuinely producing in Australia an advantage in the marketplace which helps support local jobs."
The House of Representatives standing committee on agriculture and industry is holding the latest of a long history of government inquiries into clarifying food labelling on source and manufacture.
Hale agreed with SPC managers that Australian Made meant nothing to people any more, particularly the ambiguous tag "Made in Australia from Local and Imported Ingredients".
But he said the wide consensus among unions, manufacturers, farmers and consumer groups made him hopeful this was a real opportunity for reform, with consumers ever more aware of the problem.
He said it was heartening to see an apparent agreement across politics among MPs on the committee instigated by the government and chaired by Coalition MP Rowan Ramsay from SA.
The key to a clear and simple system was for all those supportive parties to be organised into a task force to work with MPs and come up with a non-political solution that could be passed into law.
Getting to a clear system is a complex task – but the AMWU is ready to work for a solution.
Australia's food labelling dilemma.

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carl.were@anu.edu.au | Friday, June 27, 2014, 1:03 PM
As a consumer that reads lables and reads books, 'truth in labling' laws in Australia are light years behind, and only in a limited way inform the public. If you want to know what you're eating your best bet is to pick it from your garden. Secondly buy organic. Thirdly, buy your food fresh. Beyond these simple rules, food labeling is very gray area open to both indeliberate and deliberate abuse. There are sufficient loop holes for the consumer not to be able to recognise GM/GE ingredinets in processed foods commonly found on our shelves, let alone the country of origin.