Food Labeling Laws in Australia – Developing a better system

Currently Australia’s food labeling laws are amongst the most confusing I have seen in any country in the world. We have items that are only packaged here and made in China marked as ‘Product of Australia’ and we can buy Mekong Cat fish that is labeled as ‘Coral Trout’ or even ‘Flake’. ‘Free Range’ eggs can be eggs where hens are allowed into a small 2 x 2m caged outside area for 5 minutes a day and terms like ‘Green’, ‘Organic’ and ‘Degradable’ are simply marketing masturbation and not accurate assessments of the products you are eating.  Worse still is that it is completely ‘lega’l to mislead the customer about what they are getting, what is in it and where it come from.

This month a bunch of scientists, nutritionists and of course industry (See Woolworths & Coles) will sit around with the government to try and revamp the hopelessly misleading and sub standard food labeling regulations we currently have.

As you may have guessed, Coles & Woolies see nothing wrong with the current system as it allows them to by surplus food on the international markets, ship it 40,000km and undercut local growers by dumping product and forcing down prices and maximizing profits. Further to that, they don’t like having information like, ‘this product contains palm oil’ which contains 4000% more saturated heart attack inducing fats than olive oil and is the leading cause of habitat destruction in Asia and of coronary failure here.

On the positive side, we have some good consumer advocates present and I will keep you updated as to the progress of the discussions and implementation (we hope) of its recommendations.

On a recent survey 90% of those surveyed stated they would like to eat more organic and ethically produced produce, but disturbingly 70% were not prepared to pay a single cent more for healthy, locally produced organic food. Currently we spend less of our income (as a percentage) on food than at any stage in human history but wont fork out an extra $20-40 a week so that we can maintain a viable lifestyle for farmers, improve the woeful standards of farm bred animals and improve the over all nutrition and heath of ourselves and more importantly our children.

A simple ‘5 Star’ system like the energy saving appliance system would be perfect for shoppers wanting to buy ‘Green’ produce. Ranging from 1 star for say only having used sustainable palm oil to 5 Stars for a locally produced, wholly organic and ethical food product. It could be a really easy to understand simple system and would barely cost the tax payer a cent.

So before you head down to Aldi or Costco to load up on the latest over produced, low nutrient, tran-fat saturated ‘Crisps’ made by 8 year kids living near a sewage outlet in Guanzhou consider for a second what you may be doing to not only yourself, but to those around you by encouraging this kind of exploitation of our own health.

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