Thursday, 19 September 2019
MINISTER for Agriculture and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has today called for urgent action on meat and milk food labelling across Australia, arguing the current regime is no longer fair to consumers nor protective of industry.
“It’s pretty simple – the entire country is lagging behind the rest of the world on this issue,” Mr Marshall said.
“Internationally, Europe has voted to ban the use of terms such as ‘meat’ and ‘milk’ as well as other associated food labels on food items that are not made of animal products. The United States is following suit, yet we are well behind.
“It’s not good enough and it has the potential to disadvantage our farmers and the value of their products internationally.”
Mr Marshall said allowing traditional names to be used on what was lab-manufactured food was unfair on consumers and potentially deceptive.
“It rubber-stamps that product as being equivalent to something coming from our primary industries,” he said.
“But how can something that is sometimes printed in a lab by machines using strands of protein, or grown in a petri-dish, be compared to meat from an animal that has been raised naturally according to the high standards we demand and enforce in NSW and Australia? It can’t.
“If fake food manufacturers believe their products stand on their own merits, then why do they try so hard to dress them up like the real thing?
“Fake-food manufacturers even go as far as creating bleeding fake patties and grill marks on the products – how can these kind of activities not be considered misleading under our laws?
“Farmers don’t have a problem with plant food options, but it’s time the Trojan-horse loopholes in labelling were closed.
“It’s time for plant food manufacturers to put their thinking caps on – find new names for your plant products and stop the masquerade.”
Food labelling is routinely considered by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum). The joint system is underpinned by a treaty to ensure consistent labelling and food standards across both countries.
The system is designed to ensure clarity for industry, producers and consumers across all the Governments of Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Marshall said an options paper on the issue was currently before the Forum recommending no action due to a lack of evidence, or referral to yet another committee.
“I won’t allow this issue to simply be kicked further down the road – we must deal with it now,” he said.
“I’ve charged the NSW Food Authority to table an actual options paper for the Forum to consider.
“If no-one else will step up, NSW will take the lead on this national issue.”