AUSVEG, the industry body representing Australia’s vegetable and potato growers, has welcomed McDonald’s commitment to display country of origin ingredients in products menued at its restaurants. It is calling on other quick service restaurant (QSR) operators to follow suit so that consumers will have no doubt about where their food comes from.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, who has a solid record of advocating for Australia’s farmers, has urged fast food restaurant proprietors to adopt the country of origin labeling system, which became mandatory on all food products sold in retail stores from July 1, 2018. However, some products are exempt, including food sold for immediate consumption at QSR outlets and cafes.
AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said that the decision by one of Australia’s biggest fast food outlets to commit to adopting Country of Origin Labeling (CoOL) was a show of faith to the hard work and dedication of Australia’s farmers in providing high quality food to Australian consumers.
“Fast food retailers should be upfront as to their food’s origin, particularly given Australian farmers produce enough food for the domestic market and to continue to supply international markets – Australia produces enough food for 75 million people, three times its population,” said Whiteside.
He continued: “Australian consumers have a strong preference to buy locally-grown food and they have a right to know where their food comes from. The country of origin labels that are mandatory for products sold in retail provide more information to consumers about their food, but the system’s impact is lessened by not being applied equally across all food sellers.
“Australia is a world-class producer of food and can supply more than enough to feed Australia’s growing population. The public has a right to know where their food comes from.
“While the labeling system provides consumers with more information about where a lot of their food comes from, it is an inconsistent, two-tiered approach that is problematic for consumers and needs the fast food industry to get on board and commit to displaying the country of origin on their food products.
“AUSVEG has been a vocal advocate for clearer Country of Origin Labeling and we welcome McDonald’s decision and Minister Littleproud’s efforts to advocate for Australia’s farmers. We urge the rest of the fast food industry, and other industries which are exempt from mandatory labeling, to adopt the labeling so that consumers can make more informed purchasing decisions.”