New food labelling laws clear parliament in response to berry outbreak

The Parliament in Australia has passed new food labelling laws in response to a case where more than 30 people across Australia contracted hepatitis in 2015 after consuming the same brand of frozen berries. The legislation is part of the government's country-of-origin labelling reform package, passed on Wednesday night with the support of Labor.

The new labeling laws look to increase awareness for consumers allowing them to see more about their food and where it comes from. Parliament hopes it can tackle meaningless claims like "made in Australia from local and imported ingredients" when a product may only be minimally processed in Australia.

The new laws make clear that importing ingredients and undertaking minor processes, like dicing or canning, are not enough to justify a "made in Australia" claim.

"If the new system had applied at the time of the frozen berry scare, consumers would have been none the wiser about the origins of the berries that became a matter of contention," Senior Labor figure Kim Carr told parliament.

"Nonetheless, the system is better than what it has replaced."
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the changes were a win for consumers.


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