Some food labels will include the country of origin from this weekend

Finding out where your fruit or fish comes from is about to get easier, with new food labeling rules coming into force this weekend.

Under the Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations, companies must inform consumers of the provenance of certain fresh and thawed foods.

From Saturday, the origin of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, shellfish and cold cuts such as ham, bacon and prosciutto must be indicated on the packaging or on a nearby sign.

For example, bananas from Ecuador will need to be clearly identified as originating from Ecuador, either on the packaging, labels or a sign on or next to the shelf.

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If these foods are frozen, they must indicate the country of origin from May 2023.

Under the new rules, bananas and other fresh foods will have to be clearly labeled with their country of origin.

Laura Chase de Formigny/For the Washington Post

Under the new rules, bananas and other fresh foods will have to be clearly labeled with their country of origin.

The Commerce Commission’s Chief Fair Trade Officer, Vanessa Horne, said mandatory country of origin information would help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

Horne said the commission had consulted with a range of food producers and traders to develop advice for businesses on the new rules, to help them understand what types of food were included and what they needed to do to comply with it.

The settlement applies to single-ingredient foods, 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 rules will not apply to fundraising events or places where food will be consumed immediately, such as restaurants and take-out outlets.

Salted pork products like ham, bacon and prosciutto will be covered by the new rules.

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Salted pork products like ham, bacon and prosciutto will be covered by the new rules.

Failure to comply with the regulations would violate the Fair Trading Act and could result in a violation fee of $1,000.

In cases of serious non-compliance, the commission can choose to take legal action, with penalties of up to $30,000 for businesses and $10,000 for individuals.

Making a false or misleading statement regarding the origin of goods or services is also an offense under the Fair Trade Act and carries a maximum penalty of $600,000 per offense for businesses and $200,000 for individuals. .

Consumers with information about traders not complying with the regulations should contact the Commerce Commission.

The government began consultations on country-of-origin labeling regulations after laws were passed to clarify the origin of food products for consumers in late 2018.

But in May 2020, MBIE announced a 12-month delay in recommending the regulations and pushed it back to June 2021, to take effect six months later.

A further delay, attributed to the Covid-19 disruption, was announced in September last year.

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