Do you know where your food comes from?
The recent Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet product recall of frozen berries have left the food industry and media “experts” scratching their heads.
Many of the consumers who purchased the recalled products were shocked to find that the berries that they had consumed were not Australian, and had been sourced from China.
For many years, I have personally not liked the labelling requirements that allow food manufacturers to label their food “Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients” or “Packed in Australia from local and imported ingredients”.
Now Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet are not the only companies that label their food products in this way, and unfortunately, what they have done is not illegal (for now).
Chefs’ source and use food products every day, however do they know what the premium country of origin claims are on manufactured foods?
Do you know the difference between “Product of Australia” and “Made in Australia” when related to food?
There is a lot of confusion because of the “Made in Australia” campaign on TV, and most people I speak to think that “Made in Australia” means that the product is made here, and it is made with Australian ingredients…however…“Product of Australia” is the PREMIUM claim!
For a manufactured food product to be labelled “Product of Australia” each significant ingredient or part of the product must have originated in Australia and almost all of the production processes occurred in Australia…where by “Made in Australia” only means that the product was made (not just packed) in Australia and at least 50% of the cost to produce the product was incurred in Australia. These products could contain ingredients from other countries. As silly as it sounds, a product with a “Made in Australia” label won’t necessarily contain any Australian ingredients.
I am aware of fruit juice companies that import fruit pulp from overseas, reconstitute it in Australia (i.e. mix with water) and then package…and they can label it “Made in Australia” as the product has been substantially transformed here… The same applies to frozen berries that are blended to make fruit purees. If the berries are from China, but blended in Australia, the product can be labelled “Made in Australia”.
While I have personally wanted country of origin labelling apply on all key ingredients, this is not the forum to promote my own personal views. Instead, I recommend that if you or your customers are concerned about overseas farming, hygiene and cleaning practices that you start to question your suppliers on where your ingredients are sourced. Ingredients you should be checking could include fish, seafood, vegetables, fruits and boneless meat products.
If you want Australian ingredients, in Australian products, that have been made in Australia, then make sure you buy foods that are labelled as “Product of Australia”.
While the proposed country of origin claims released by the Australian Government on the 21st July 2015 are a good start, they still don’t tell us which country the ingredients are from. Many of your customers would be comfortable being served food ingredients from a country like New Zealand, but there are many countries that they probably don’t want their food from. At present, all of these items could be labelled in the same way, so when your suppliers hide behind the “local and imported ingredient” references, ask them where it comes from.
Eat well. Eat safe!
- FSANZ information on Frozen Berry recall: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/Pages/Frozen-berries-recall-.aspx;
- FSANZ Industry Guides on food labelling: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/labelling/coo/Pages/default.aspx;
- FSANZ Standard 1.2.4: Country of Origin Labelling: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2015C00179;
- ACCC Country of Origin requirements: http://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/groceries/country-of-origin;
- Proposed ingredient labelling changes: http://www.industry.gov.au/industry/IndustrySectors/FoodManufacturingIndustry/Pages/Country-of-Origin-Labelling.aspx