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Food labelling draft changes released.

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Food labelling draft changes released

Friday, 12/08/2005

Food Standards Australia New Zealand has released its long-awaited draft changes to labelling laws for fruit and vegetables.

Both fresh and packaged foods are included in the recommendations, which will require the country of origin to be obvious for consumers to identify.

There are new labelling requirements for unpackaged fish, fruit, vegetables and nuts, while packaged foods will have to indicate which country they come from, and not just say they are imported.

"We are very conscious that the information must be visible and evident to consumers, and we're strengthening the legibility provisions," Dean Stockwell from Food Standards Australia New Zealand said.

"We're requiring the statements to be clear, to be unambiguous, and to be fully legible to consumers."

But the draft changes have not pleased the chairman of AusVeg, Mike Badcock, who says terms need to be better defined to stop companies hiding information.

"We do believe that it needs to be declared what size that label is and where it will be put on the package.

"It seems to be a thing that people are trying to hide that situation, quite often if it's imported product, and we don't think that's fair."

Nigel Garrard from the National Food Industry Council, which includes processors, believes most labelling requirements are strict enough already, but accepts some changes are inevitable.

"There is going to be stronger labelling requirements for fresh products, which I think is absolutely appropriate, and some minor changes to the existing labelling for process foods would be fine," he said.

"The policing of it is perhaps, has not been as rigid as it could have been and is an area we need to look at."