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Government must guarantee food standards



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M E D IA RELEASE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS

IS IT REAL?

GOVERNMENT MUST GUARANTEE FOOD STANDARDS

The possibility that cheap imitation food products could legally be substituted for the real thing after 1 January 2000 is totally unacceptable, Lindsay Tanner, Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs said today.

During a debate on food labelling, Mr Tanner drew aftenfion to the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) review of food standards, which is proposing a watering down of food labelling standards.

“While it is important for consumers to be able to make informed judgements about the country of origin of their purchases," Mr Tanner said, “it is even more important for consumers to know that what they are buying is the real thing."

"Under the proposed new standards, jam will no longer be required to contain fruit and chocolate will not have to contain cocoa. Consumers will no longer be protected from cheap substitutes with misleading labels.

“The Australian Consumers Association and industry representatives have both appealed to the Government to stop this deregulation.

“The excuse that the deregulation is necessary to meet World Trade Organisation conditions is farcical," Mr Tanner said.

“This Government must not use international and bi-lateral treaties as an excuse to duck its obligations to Australian consumers.

“ It is also questionable whether a body like the ANZFA, with its charter to also represent industry views, can adequately protect the interests of consumers in these matters.

Mr Tanner called on the Government to guarantee that the quality of food sold to Australian consumers would not be jeopardised.

30 November 1998 For further information contact Lindsay Tanner or Gary Moorhead on 02) 6277 4428 or 0418 555 877._________