The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will conduct market surveillance checks on 10,000 food products to ensure businesses are correctly displaying the new labels which come into effect on 1 July.
All manufacturers, processors and importers that offer food for retail sale in Australia must comply with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard, which specifies how claims can be made about the origin of food products.
“We’ve been providing guidance for businesses over the past two years about the new food labelling system, including how to apply and interpret the standard. We are now entering the compliance phase, where we are making sure businesses are presenting accurate information about country of origin to their customers” ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.
“We have people on the ground to carry out these inspections and will initially focus on fresh or short shelf products sold by supermarkets, both large and small.
“We will raise concerns with businesses where we believe there is an issue with country of origin labelling. As always, we are able to escalate cases which warrant stronger action.”
Keogh said that some consumers are willing to pay extra for products grown, produced or made in Australia, and producers and importers should be aware that any claim which is likely to mislead consumers will also be a breach of the law.
"We just want to ensure that consumers can make informed choices and businesses have a level playing field to compete fairly in relation to these claims.”
The ACCC has a number of materials available to assist businesses and consumers, and GS1 Australia says its suite of digital content services can also provides an easy solution for suppliers to provide their CoOL information to retailers.
The Data and Digital Content Services team at GS1 Australia have added the CoOL data fields to the National Product Catalogue (NPC), which is GS1 Australia’s synchronisation solution that helps businesses exchange standardised supply chain information with their trading partners.
This means that food suppliers can enter CoOL attribute product data in the NPC and forward this information to retailers from a single location.
GS1 Australia said the new labelling is also supported in its digital marketing solution Smart Media, and its GS1 Barcode Check Verification Report has also been updated to include CoOL legislation images as they appear on the finished product.