Govt defends extra meat labelling consultation, McDonald urges ‘common sense’

Beef Central, 18/09/2023


Numerous examples of plant based products labelled prominently with words such as beef were highlighted during the 2021-23 Senate inquiry into labelling of meat and other products.

THE Albanese Government has defended its decision to embark on another round of consultation with industry groups before deciding whether to adopt a mandatory or voluntary approach to meat and non-meat food labelling standards.

Cattle Australia last week questioned the Department of Agriculture’s decision to seek further industry views, after a Senate Inquiry which conducted extensive industry consultation firmly recommended in February 2022 that the Government implement mandatory rules to differentiate meat from non-meat products and to avoid causing consumer confusion.

In response to questions from Beef Central about why the consultation phase was being revisited, a spokesperson for Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt said the Government is still working to form a decision on the best approach for all sectors.

“The Albanese Government has committed to improving food labelling regulations so that consumers have informed choice,” the spokesperson said.

“We want to make sure the right settings are in place to ensure food labelling deliver accurate and clear information.

“The Government is committed to working with the meat and plant industries to ensure any regulatory changes are fit-for-purpose and that the regulatory environment sets all sectors up for growth and success.

“To take this commitment forward, consultation is underway with stakeholders across the supply chain to understand their views before making a decision on the next steps. This includes primary producers, manufacturers, and retailers in both the traditional meat and alternative protein sectors.

“We will also consider how the voluntary industry guidelines recently developed by the alternative protein industry are working, and ensure any changes are consistent with the broader food regulatory system, support both meat and plant industries, and informed by the best information available.”

‘Failing the common sense test’: Susan McDonald

Queensland LNP Senator Susan McDonald, who chaired the 2022 meat labelling inquiry, said the Government was being lobbied by groups actively working against meat protein.

Senator Susan McDonald who chaired the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs committee inquiry into meat labelling.

“Regardless of the Department’s idea that they need to consult further, which I think is ridiculous, the consumers have spoken,” Senator McDonald said.

“Right across the country when I did media (after the Feb ’22 inquiry) radio stations flooded with calls of people saying ‘yes this is silly’.

“Why is it that I go into a shop and something says it is chicken free chicken, or bull free beef and it has a picture of the animal and it looks like the product, but it is not the product that you think you’re buying?

“This is just failing the common sense test, it is failing consumers and it is failing nutritional standards, we had evidence on that.

“I don’t believe this is what Australians think is good Government. We are being influenced by a lobby that doesn’t have consumers, certainly does not have the meat industry in its interests.

“Labelling is in front of people’s minds whether it be organic, whether it be content, surely this is just reasonable and fair for consumers.”


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Natasha, 19/09/2023

    I can just image in the uproar if the beef industry or equivalent wanted to call a branded ‘Plant Based Beef’ because it was fed 100% plants.
    Evidently it is too hard to ask for a government to grow a set, make a decision and stop trying to make the minority happy all the time.

  2. mick alexander, 19/09/2023

    it is sad that the govt simply wants to drag their feet and pander to the big end of town instead of looking after the health of the community – we need to force the government into establishing a full safety assessment of the synthetic food industry – safety test this synthetic lab produced excessively expensive potentially dangerous stuff being labelled food for human consumption after testing for animal consumption – that is trial with rats/ mice as is common for other products. This would be a massive boom for our rural based universities in establishing a world first series of laboratories that can assess food safety. wow we can stop potentially poisonous food being pedalled on our communities and create a new niche industry – how will labor view this?

  3. Margaret, 19/09/2023

    The words ‘meat’, ‘chicken’, ‘beef’, ‘cow’, ‘goat’, ‘lamb’ etc & ‘mylk’ must NEVER be used on labelling of any plant based products.

  4. Peter F Dunn, 18/09/2023

    Surprise, surprise. The federal government and Minister Watt are not hearing what it, and he, wants to hear about food labelling, so the ‘consultation’ is being extended.
    Senator McDonald is correct that “the consumers have spoken”, but we can’t have that getting in the way of ideology, can we?

  5. Stanley Bruce Collins, 18/09/2023

    Murray Watt is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  6. Danielle Millynn, 18/09/2023

    I would have loved to have learned the arguments from the plant based industry as to why they want to use the same descriptions of their product.

    Hi Danielle, here is a link to an earlier article which summarises how the meat and plant-based protein sectors put their cases in the more than 100 submissons to the inquiry – – Editor

  7. Stan Allen, 18/09/2023

    Sadly, this is a circumstance where common sense is not really common.

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -