The ACCC is watching!

Aug 21, 2018

The ACCC is watching! Do you know your obligations in respect of food labelling?

Businesses which import or produce packaged foods and then retail or wholesale those foods into the Australian market must comply with the new Country of Origin Food Labelling Standard which came into effect as of 1 July 2018.

The new Standard imposes obligations on businesses to label their products strictly in accordance with the Standard, including in relation to the disclosure of the country of origin of ingredients, and the country where the product was made.

A style guide has been provided and all relevant goods must have a compliant logo on the packaging that indicates the percentage Australian content. The information on the product labels must be true and should be able to be supported by documentation.

In practical terms, if a product is labelled incorrectly (even inadvertently), then it could be treated as a breach of the Australian Consumer Law and the responsible business may be pursued by the ACCC. Businesses supplying goods which do not comply with the Standard face penalties for misleading and deceptive conduct, which can be up to $1.1 million for corporations and up to $220,000 for individuals.

The ACCC has warned the business community that it will be monitoring the market over the next 12 months to ensure compliance with the Standard, and will be using third party informants to assist in this task. Experience tells us that the third party informant will most likely be your competitor or a customer.

There are dozens of mandatory standards that fall under a similar ACCC purview and of course, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

If you receive a letter from the ACCC in relation to labelling, or any other matter, then call us first. Early interaction with the ACCC in the correct manner can usually minimise your exposure.

Need to discuss your labelling issue? Contact Malcolm Brown or Natalie Lasek.