“Country of origin” on seafood labels

Thursday, 08 June, 2006

From today (8 June) there will be "country of origin" labels on the seafood displays.

Seafood Services Australia managing director Ted Loveday said today sees the introduction of long-awaited new national labelling laws.

"The Federal Government and all the States agreed that all unpackaged seafood products on display for sale in retail outlets should carry the country of origin - even when that country is Australia," Loveday said.

"Now, seafood lovers will be able to tell at a glance exactly where the seafood on display has originated, no matter whether that is Australia, New Zealand, Thailand or Iceland."

Mr Loveday said the new rules had been developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), approved by all Australian Health Ministers and gazetted in December 2005. They would be policed by each State health department.

"Previously, seafood sourced overseas simply had to carry the word "Imported' but, from today the actual country of origin must be displayed adjacent to each type of unpackaged seafood, there must be distinct statement of origin information on packaged products, and there are strengthened requirements for legibility and print size on labels and signs used to declare the country of origin for unpackaged foods.

"This may mean some initial extra cost and paperwork for retailers and others in the marketing chain but the Ministers considered that better informing consumers about the source of their seafood was important."

Loveday said that FSANZ had published a guide, Country of Origin Labelling of Food, designed to help food retailers and other businesses operators understand the new country of origin labelling rules. Similar rules also now applied to unpackaged fresh and processed fruit, vegetables and nuts. The new guide is available on the FSANZ website.

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