Don’t lose CoOL on another committee process

Food labelling laws: seafood in restaurants, fish shops targeted
Rosie Lewis

• APRIL 03, 2015 11:25AM

Country of origin labels may apply to seafood in restaurants and fish and chip shops.
The government will consider country of origin labels on seafood at restaurants and fish and chip shops when it develops its new food labelling laws, as it comes under pressure from the Nationals to take action.
A Senate committee report handed down last year recommended seafood be clearly labelled with the country of origin, as is already law in supermarkets and fish retailers.
A spokesman for Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash told The Australian the recommendation would be looked at as the government produces a new labelling system, which Tony Abbott commissioned after imported Chinese frozen berries sparked a hepatitis A outbreak in February.
“The changes will ensure consumers have access to a clear, consistent and easy-to-understand labelling system, to ensure consumers will be able to make informed choices about where their food comes from,” the spokesman said.
“The senate inquiry into current requirements for labelling of seafood and seafood products will be considered when developing the new country of origin labelling laws.”
The government has begun consulting consumer groups, food producers and manufacturers to produce the new regulations. It is expected to be discussed by Cabinet in August.
NSW Nationals senator John Williams said he was “keen” to see the issue progress and would raise it with colleagues at a “gathering next week”.
A licence condition in the Northern Territory requires imported seafood prepared for immediate consumption to be labelled as ‘imported’.
“I’m keen to see a response pretty soon; it’s lifted consumption in the Northern Territory by 70 per cent — it’s done wonders — and I’d like to see it Australia-wide,” Senator Williams said.
“When it comes to eating fresh food Australians want to eat Australian food.”
A bill introduced by members of the Senate crossbench last week, which would roll out the NT law to the rest of the nation, is also being considered by the government.
The Australian Retailers Association said over the Easter long weekend there is a surge in demand for seafood.
ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the proportion of grocery shoppers buying seafood rises from 36 per cent to 42 per cent at Easter. “A massive increase of 6 per cent or roughly half a million extra seafood buyers,” he said.