Are you ready for Australia’s new food labelling rules?

Starting in July of next year, food manufacturers will have new labelling requirements to comply with. Deemed the “Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard,” the new rule is designed to help consumers make more informed decisions and to, according to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, “make it clearer where the products you buy are produced, grown, made or packed.”

What’s a country of origin label?

Country of origin food labels image

Image: Australian Government

Passed in 2016, the new rules will require food manufacturers list a “country of origin” in number of categories, including “Grown in,” “Product of,” “Made in” and “Packed in.” All food sold for retail must comply with the new regulations, including unpackaged fresh and processed fruit, vegetables, herbs, nuts, spices, fish and meat. Restaurants, cafes, takeaway shops, schools and caterers will not need to provide Country of Origin label.

Here’s how the categories break down:

  • “Grown in” – Primarily for fresh food and produce, “Grown in” can refer to where a product grew, was germinated in or harvested in.
  • “Product of” – According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, “A food can claim to have been produced in a country if each of its significant ingredients originated in that country and all, or almost all, of the manufacturing processes also occurred in that country.”
  • “Made in” – This pertains to where the manufacturing and making of a food took place. The ACCC says, “As this claim refers to the processing that has taken place, it doesn’t mean that the food contains any ingredients from that country.”
  • “Packed in” – This is for food products that can’t claim to be grown, produced or made in a single country and instead refers to where they were packaged for sale.

If you’re unsure about which claim applies to your product, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has an online tool designed to help you determine the best route.

Why clearer food labels are important

The reason behind the new rules is simple: to make food labels easier to understand and choose from. According to the Department of Industry, “Australians have been demanding changes to origin claims on food labels.” They want them to be “clearer, more meaningful and accurate,” the Department’s website says.

When will the food label regulations go into effect?

The new regulations officially go into effect in 2016, but enforcement won’t start until 1 July 2018. Still, many food manufacturers and vendors are already starting to comply. For most, the labels require new designs, printing and packaging, and with only a few months left until the comply date, they’re finding now is the time to act – before the deadline looms too large.

A quick note: food that is labeled with older-style labels can still be sold until its shelf life is up. Any food labelled and sold after 1 July must have the new Country of Origin labels affixed.

Update your food labels now

Are you compliant with the new labelling requirements? Need help getting prepared? Luminar’s food and beverage labelling experts can help.