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New food labelling laws urgent - Greens

Greens Leader Christine Milne has a food labelling bill ready to go and says the time is ripe for the Coalition government to help pass it.

"We have people being diagnosed with Hepatitis A from eating contaminated imported food, and we have people saying they don't know how to tell if they're buying Australian food. Let's fix the system," said Senator Milne.

"Big supermarkets and overseas food corporations have made it really difficult to know where our food comes from.

"The bill I introduced last week will make country of origin very clear on food labels, to help protect consumers and support farmers.

"Everyone from farmers to consumer groups and even the Coalition's Minister for Agriculture have been calling for this, so it's time to put words into action.

"It's time for the government to get behind the Greens' bill to make it easy for people to buy Australian produce, protect consumers and support our farmers and local businesses.

"Let's get this new labelling system up and running and get rid of the silly ‘local and imported ingredients' label, which means nothing," said Senator Milne.

This morning on ABC 24, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said:

"I want to make sure that people can clearly identify, when they go to the shop, a genuine Australian product because we do have stronger sanitary laws, we do have stronger oversight to make sure we have a cleaner, greener product than what comes in from overseas."

The Greens bill, introduced to Parliament on 12 February 2015, is the result of broad and extensive consultation, incorporating the recommendations of multiple reviews. With government support it could be passed into law on the next day Parliament sits.

The new law will establish the following labels for country of origin claims:

• ‘Product of' or ‘Grown in' - will be used to describe food that has been wholly grown and processed in a country.
• ‘Manufactured in' - will replace ‘Made in' for food that has been substantially transformed in a particular country. The term ‘made in' will no longer be used as many people think that ‘made in' refers to where the ingredients were grown.
• ‘Packaged in' - will be used on food that has been highly processed but can't claim to have either ingredients of significant processing in a particular country. Companies can still choose to highlight the source of significant ingredients if they wish.
Media contact: Jennifer Faerber 0438 376 082

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