Australian Rules of Origin?

Australian labeling laws are a minefield.   You’d think three simple words: “Made in Australia” would be self explanatory.  But they aren’t.  According to the Trade Practices Amendment (Country of Origin Representations) Act 1998 “Made in Australia” means a product is substantially transformed in Australia and at least 50 percent of the cost of production has been carried out here.   “Product of Australia” on the other hand is more rigorous and means all significant ingredients come from Australia and all or virtually all of the manufacturing or processing is carried out in Australia.  Confused?  Well you wouldn’t be the only one.

Little wonder Australian Pork Limited (APL) has just embarked on a program of better identifying true blue Aussie pork with a pink “Australian Pork” labeling system. APL’s research shows that only 33% of Australians think that fresh pork in the supermarket or butcher is home grown. In fact ONLY Australian pork is allowed to be sold fresh in this country. That’s the law – fresh pork equals Australian pork.  But wander over to the deli department and it is a different matter.  About 70% of the bacon, hams and pork-based deli goodies have been produced from cheap imported US, Canadian or Danish pork, dudding the Aussie pork farmer. And the identification as an import is none too clear.  But certainly for ham there is a simple rule of thumb regardless of the label. If it is a bone-in leg of ham it has to be Australian. No imported pork meat with a bone is permissible in Australia.

Recently the seafood industry did some fine tuning of the naming of marine species to lessen the confusion on fishy nomenclature. But the detail of place of origin is still …well, fishy.  A recent trip to the Sydney Fish Markets had Australian Gem Fish at about $15 a kilo.  Two fish that have well documented critical bio mass status are Orange Roughy in Victoria and Gem Fish in NSW.  So was this over fished species at a bargain price? What gives?  But the logical explanation is that it is from Australia’s West coast, where the species is in good numbers.  But how would a consumer know?  More specific place of origin and content labeling would certainly be more helpful.

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