Country-of-Origin Labelling: Is it really CoOL?

After the recent Hepatitis A health scare through contaminated frozen berry imports, the Federal
Government has strengthened their commitment to bring changes to Country-of-Origin Labelling, or “CoOL”, laws in Australia.

While CoOL has the potential to assist consumers in deciphering the difference between products that are 100 per cent Australian-made and those containing
only some local ingredients, the new laws could have greater ramifications on the Australian dairy industry.

Below are some FAQ’s the ADF Update thought you might be interested in:

Why is CoOL important to get right for dairy?

Milk is the defining component of all dairy products and its conversion into the variety of cheeses, yoghurts, long-life milks, butter and infant formula
in Australia requires a wide range of ingredients. Often these include very low amounts of rennet, starter, cultures, yeasts, vitamins and minerals
to facilitate their functional transformation from milk into a product.

However, several of these ingredients are not produced in Australia either because the raw materials are not available, or they cannot be economically
and sustainably manufactured here. Other ingredients in dairy products are imported because of seasonality or the need for continuity of supply.

If CoOL requires that use of the term “Australian” can only apply to 100 per cent Australian content and 100 per cent Australian production, then the implication
is that only some white milks will be able to carry the Australian made label.

This would mean that most dairy products containing milk produced in Australia, by Australian dairy farmers and converted into Australian dairy products
in Australian factories, employing Australian workers would not be able to claim Australian origin.

What is important for the new CoOL laws?

The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) is lobbying Government to ensure that Australian dairy products made with Australian milk in Australian factories
can be defined as Australian products under CoOL. The design of any new CoOL laws must provide for provisions such as:

  • Processing aids – minor ingredients necessary for processing should not be part of any percentage requirements relating to the significant ingredients.
  • Fortification for healthy Australian communities – the addition of vitamins and minerals not made in Australia to milks or infant formulas in order
    to promote health outcomes and meet consumer demand, should not prevent Australian dairy products being labelled as such.
  • Flexibility for seasonal/batch alterations – prescriptive percentages will not work when the origin of product ingredients can alter by season or even
    by batch, therefore some flexibility needs to be built into the requirements.
  • Trading protection – labelling requirements need to align with international regulations and trade agreements to ensure the Australian dairy industry
    is not disadvantaged against our key competitors.

What can you do to help influence dairy’s agenda in the Government’s push for “stronger” CoOL laws?

Dairy farmers, processors and industry representatives can take part in a consultation process that the Government has commenced. This will provide an
opportunity for us to ensure that dairy’s interests are heard and considered. Click here for information about the Government’s consultation process and to register you interest.

You may also wish to write to your local MP to inform them of the industry’s requirements with CoOL. Click here for a short statement about the areas the dairy industry is seeking for Government consideration on.

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