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New standard for food labelling

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FOOD Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has gazetted the new Country of Origin Food Labelling Standard for Australia.

The standard will come into full force for unpackaged fruit, vegetables, nuts and seafood products in six months’ time, for unpackaged pork products in 12 months and for packaged goods in two years’ time.

The new standard includes:

· broadening the scope to include unpackaged fresh pork, ham and bacon products and processed unpackaged seafood, vegetables, nuts and fruit

· a requirement that unpackaged products included in the standard have a specific country-of-origin label – not just a statement that the product is imported

· distinct statement of origin information on packaged products

· a requirement for country of origin declarations for packaged and unpackaged foods to be consistent with trade practices legislation and trade practices law; and

· strengthened requirements for legibility and print size on labels and signs used to declare the country of origin for unpackaged foods

The new standard is available on the FSANZ web site.

A user guide to assist industry, retailers, enforcement agencies and consumers understand the new standard will be available on the FSANZ web site in the next few weeks.

In October 2005, the Australian Government directed FSANZ to undertake further work to assess the merit of extending country of origin labelling to two or less fruit or vegetable whole food components packaged together, including where other incidental ingredients are included. FSANZ has commenced this work and will be seeking public comment in February 2005 before reporting in March 2005.

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