DESPITE a senate inquiry last year recommending mandatory meat labelling laws with the support of Government and opposition Senators, the Federal Department of Agriculture is now asking industry for more views again.
Cattle Australia interim CEO Adam Coffey said it is time for the Albanese Government “to show consumers the respect they deserve” and follow the recommendations of the 2022 senate inquiry by improving labelling regulation to make a clear distinction between meat and plant-based alternatives.
Mr Coffey said current labelling standards have been exploited by some alternative protein manufacturers to trade off the reputation of Australia’s high-quality meat standards.
“Consumers should be able to eat the food they think they’re buying,” Mr Coffey said.
“Disguising plant-based products to look like meat can take that choice away from consumers.
“The ALP promised to resolve this issue during the election, now they must deliver.”
An extensive Senate inquiry chaired by Senator Susan McDonald in February 2022 recommended the Government introduce laws reserving the use of images of animals and terms such as ‘beef’ or ‘veal’ only for the genuine article.
However, despite bipartisan support from the major Parliamentary parties for the inquiry report, 18 months after it was handed down Government progress to enact its recommendations had been “very slow”, Senator McDonald told Kerry Lonergan on Beef Central’s Weekly Grill podcast in July.
Despite the comprehensive canvassing of views on the subject during the inquiry, the Department has issued a document seeking updated industry views on labelling.
“Noting this is a complex issue with diverse views, the department is seeking industries’ views on how plant-based protein products are labelled and the impact on the industry, and the specific elements of product labelling of highest priority to the industry,” the document states.
Mr Coffey said the issue is about ensuring food labelling has integrity, and making sure shoppers know what they’re getting.
“You shouldn’t have to read the fine print to know if you’re buying beef.
“There is no reason for the Government to hold this up.
“We would expect to have labelling issues resolved in Anthony Albanese’s first year of Government.
“Australia’s beef industry has spent decades building community trust as a healthy, clean, ethical and sustainable option.
“Alternative proteins simply haven’t proven themselves to many consumers and they need to put in the work themselves.
“Further, some consumers need to eat meat because of its nutrient-dense qualities – this is something alternative proteins cannot deliver.
“This should be an easy decision for the government and Cattle Australia urges them to take swift action.
“The Senate inquiry has done the work, now it’s time to get on with the job.”
Source: Cattle Australia