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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8310


Dear Mrs Wicks

Country of origin labelling of seafood sold in foodservice (petition no. EN0523)

Thank you for your letter of 21 May 2018 concerning petition no. EN0523 which seeks a mandate for country of origin labelling of seafood sold in foodservice such as restaurants, cafés, pubs and clubs.

In 2016, the Australian Government introduced significant reforms to Australia's existing food origin labelling framework. The reforms were designed to give consumers access to clearer origin information for retail food purchasing decisions while balancing regulatory costs to businesses. In agreeing to the reforms, the Government retained the longstanding exemption of foodservice from mandatory origin labelling due to concerns about disproportionately higher costs to these types of business.

On 28 November 2016, the Government committed to convene a working group to consider options to improve consumer access to seafood origin information in foodservice. In initiating this process, the Government recognised that Government action should be undertaken only where there is clear evidence of consumer detriment and the benefits of Government action would outweigh the costs of regulation.

The Government is currently considering the outcomes of its consultations and will report its findings once finalised. In the meantime, there are commercial opportunities for industry-led consumer marketing and communications to raise consumer awareness of seafood origin and drive demand for Australian seafood, particularly in premium segments. Restaurants can identify the origin of seafood and sell locally sourced products through their menus. There is also extensive competition and choice in foodservice which provides opportunities for consumers to seek out businesses delivering their seafood origin preferences.

Yours sincerely

from the Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation, Senator Seselja