Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Morning all.
There's been discussion in the Samford Food group about how to tell the country of origin from barcodes. Some believed you could do this using the first three digits in the barcode. Turns out this isn't as accurate as we thought (see info below). Some of the asian countries have no food regulations eg China, Taiwan, Vietnam.

Below are some excerpts:

Dear Food Group,
Sorry but the barcode number is not a true indication of the country of

The owner of the barcode can be any business or individual, the country codes only relate the issuing company - for Australia that is

Other companies can buy barcodes from GS1 and then resell barcodes as a product in their own right.

Each country sells barcodes with their country prefix, so a manufacturer can buy barcodes for each country they intend to sell their product. You could by an imported product with an Australian barcode you could also buy a locally made product with a foreign prefix barcode

An Australian company can put their Australian prefix barcode 93 on any of their products regardless of location of manufacture - most home branded Australian products will have an Australian 93 barcode regardless of the country where it is sourced from.

There is no real way to identify the country of origin from the
barcode; unfortunately the simple answer is that there is no real way to identify the country of origin unless the producer decides to tell you

Under the Trade Practices Act a food product can legally be described as 'Australian made' if it has been substantially transformed in Australia and at least 50% of the production costs have been incurred in Australia.

The 'Australian made' claim can still be made when the product contains mainly imported ingredients which have simply been mixed or blended, seasoned, cured or homogenised here in Australia.

The ACCC's country of origin guidelines allow a food product to carry a
claim like 'Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients' if it
doesn't meet the full criteria. So if the 50% hurdle rate isn't achieved
they can still use the statement 'Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients' and not be in breach of the law.

There are many submissions and enquiries into this issue but the problem still remains:

1 food labelling is a mix of legislation and administered by many government departments who can not agree on what is in the best interests of the consumer and manufacturers

2 we have a duopoly in the grocery industry - two major retailers control too much of the market and they aren't about to support any changes to the legislation

3 ambiguous labelling allows manufacturers to change source of supply without having to change product labels

So it's a good thing we have a food group, at least we know where this
portion of our diet comes from

Jason K

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It would probably be a lifetime's work, but writing (the paper and snail mail kind) to every manufacturer who uses the 'made in Aus from local and imported ingredients' labelling saying you expect to have more explicit information, might do something about changing attitudes. It comes across to me that the manufacturers save money by getting many generic labels printed which cover all the circumstances of the products they make. Where possible, I don't buy products with that generic excuse, but then sometimes it's not so easy since there's no comparable alternative. All the more reason to read labels and where possible, just don't buy those products. But without the manufacturers being alerted on what the consumer want and expects, just not buying something unless it's a large scale boycott, is not going to tell the manufacturers anything.

Alternately, a lot of us contacting our local members - whether federal or state I'm not sure whose responsibility it is - asking for the label laws to reflect what the community expects. Eg 'made in Australia' is not indicative of from whence the ingredients. We don't grow everything we use, and specific medicinal herbs spring to mind so the ingredients for a lot of our herbal remedies will come from overseas. We need to force the manufacturers to state where most of the ingredients come from - exceptions are probably packaging and inks for printing and items which have no bearing on the food itself. It is a minefield but one from which we should be able to extricate ourselves with a bit of community support for the legislators.
Wow, that is very interesting... blew my interpretation out of the window completely - back to the drawing board I guess.
Bit of a shock, yes. We thought we could read the barcodes and know the country of origin.

Being Coeliac I have to read all ingredient listings anyway before I buy - not that this will help much with country of origin. I try to avoid made in China at least but often impossible as sometimes all on offer come from there.

A year or so back I was buying clothing at the end of season sales and visited virtually every clothing store in Chermside. Every single item of clothing from Millers to Myers and everything in between was made in China. If you have a look at the tags on your clothing you might find the same.


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