Australia’s country of origin labeling (COOL) laws are in serious need of an overhaul, according to the country’s House Agriculture Committee and industry group Australian Pork Limited.
Proponents of reform say he laws as they stand are too vague, leaving consumers confused as to whether the products they purchase were made with Australian agricultural commodities or whether they were just processed in Australia. Whether the grain used for feed in animals such as pigs for pork remains another concern.
Rowan Ramsey, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said the main aim of the reform is to provide better information to consumers so they can see the product in a store and know where it was made and where the contents came from. Under the proposed COOL reform, a label would say “made in Australia from Australian ingredients” would have to be at least 90 percent Australian ingredients and made in Australia.
“We’re making the point that we have to separate the point of manufacture and the point of contents, because the current descriptors don’t do that,” said Ramsey. “So below that 90 percent level, then we have to once again use Australia as the country, ‘made in Australia from mostly local ingredients,’ and that would mean you’d need more than 50 percent Australian content on ingredients, and then the lower one again would be ‘made in … from mostly imported ingredients.’”
Deb Kerr, spokesperson for
”The fact that we import 70 percent of hams and bacons means that our pork producers are facing competition from overseas produced pork who are lower cost producers. So consumers being able to clearly understand whether they’re buying Australian ham and bacon or imported ham and bacon is a really significant issue for us and for consumers,” she said.
Ramsey added that another concern with COOL reform is that it not create significant trade barriers.
In the United States, legislators are being urged to reform itsCOOL law, as the World Trade Organization (WTO) on October 20 ruled the U.S. was in violation of international trade obligations by discriminating against pigs and cattle from Canada and Mexico. Canada has threatened retaliation if changes are not made.