Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Commerce Commission serves up new food rules

New regulations set to take effect this weekend will give consumers more information about where their food comes from, the Commerce Commission said today.

From 12 February, businesses must comply with the new Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations that apply to certain fresh and thawed foods: fruit, vegetables, finfish, shellfish, and cured pork such as ham, bacon, and prosciutto. If these foods are frozen, they must state the country of origin from 12 May 2023.

“Mandatory country of origin information will let consumers know where certain food comes from, and help them make informed decisions when they are buying these products,” said the Commission’s General Manager Fair Trading, Vanessa Horne. 

Foods covered by the Regulations will need to state the country of origin on the packaging or on a sign nearby. 

For example, bananas from Ecuador will need to be clearly identified as being from Ecuador, either on packaging, labels or signage placed on or next to the shelf.

Ms Horne said the Commission has consulted with a range of food producers and traders to develop guidance for businesses about the new Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations 2021, to help them understand what types of food are included and what they need to do to comply with the Regulations.

The Regulations apply to single ingredient food, meaning packages of mixed foods such as a bag of frozen peas and corn will not be covered. Meatballs containing herbs, onions and garlic will not be covered, nor will a container of red and green grapes. Most processed foods are also excluded.

The Regulations will not apply to fundraising events, or where the food will be eaten immediately, for example at restaurants and takeaway outlets.

Failure to comply with the Regulations would breach the Fair Trading Act 1986 and could result in an infringement notice requiring payment of a $1,000 infringement fee per offence or fine of up to $30,000 for each offence.

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