It has never been more difficult for consumers to make informed choices when purchasing animal-derived food products. As public awareness of the plight and suffering of the more than 500 million animals in factory farm environments continues to grow, consumers are faced with an abundance of poorly defined terms and product labels that are increasingly difficult to decipher, and are devoid of any information on the farm production methods used.
Without adequate truth in labelling laws and regulations, consumers are not in a position to make informed choices. This should be the right of all Australians.
Through our Truth in Labelling Campaign, HSI is calling for the development of a national scheme for the mandatory labelling of the method of production on all meat, egg and dairy products, which would allow the use of a limited number of nationally consistent and legally defined terms to describe the production method. These terms would relate to criteria on the source of the product, the type of housing provided and specific animal welfare standards of husbandry, transport and slaughter. A standard of this nature would enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions on the basis of health, environmental and ethical considerations.
Truth in labelling of animal welfare-related production methods will, among other things:
- Assist consumers to make suitably informed choices
- Protect genuine free range producers
- Prevent the use of misleading and deceptive labelling and marketing practices
- Allow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to prosecute misleading and deceptive conduct relating to food labelling in this area.
In an effort to move towards a national labelling system, last year HSI wrote to the Minister responsible for labelling issues, The Hon. Tony Burke MP, Minister for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, calling for an urgent review and reform of all legislation relating to the labelling of animal-derived food products, to ensure there is truth in product claims and clarity in labelling. In response, the Minister stated that he did not support the mandatory labelling of food according to its method of production, and that “country of origin” labelling provides sufficient information to allow consumers to make informed choices.
Clearly, this is not the case. There is simply not enough information in the simplistic approach advocated by Minister Burke to provide consumers with the knowledge to be able to differentiate products on the basis of animal welfare, environmental or health concerns. This will only be possible with clear and consistent product labelling.
Click here to download a PDF (185.7 kB) of HSI's policy document on developing and implementing a national approach to method of production labelling of animal-derived food products.
To view a statement by the Dalai Lama condemning intensive farming for eggs, click here.
Click here for the news on the pork industry, how they are avoiding truth in labelling.
In 2009, HSI conducted a National Consumer Survey
into food labelling to guage the Australian public's understanding of the suite of labelling terms used on animal products, including caged, free-range, bred free-range, barn raised and eco-shelter raised. Australian consumers have responded with overwhelming support for change. Click here
to view the results.
What you can do
Write to Senator The Hon. Joe Ludwig MP, Minister for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 or email email@example.com
Tell him that it is your right to make informed purchases and that current product labelling is grossly inadequate to allow you to do so.
- Urge him to reform all federal, state and territory legislation and regulations applying to food labelling, branding and marketing, to ensure truth in animal-derived food production labelling, and allow you to make informed decisions.
- Stress that at the very least, such reform should ensure that the terms used on product labels are limited and clearly defined, and that these terms are linked to consistent national standards that include national standards for animal welfare.
Send a copy of your letter to The Hon Nicola Roxon, MP, Minister for Health and Ageing (FSANZ is part of the Health and Ageing portfolio), Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 or email Nicola.Roxon.MP@aph.gov.au
Also send a copy of your letter to The Hon Catherine King MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Health (who has executive responsibility for FSANZ), Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, or email Catherine.King.MP@aph.gov.au
Please send us copies of any replies that you may receive.
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