Information standards

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Information standards regulate the type and amount of information provided to consumers about particular products and services.

The Commonwealth minister responsible for administering the Australian Consumer Law can:

  • make new information standards
  • declare an existing standard as a national information standard. For example, the minister can declare a standard issued by Standards Australia, a non-government organisation, as a national standard.

An information standard for products or services can:

  • require particular information to be provided, or not
  • set the form or manner of this information
  • give a certain meaning to information.

The Australian Consumer Law recognises the following mandatory information standards:

  • care labelling for clothing and textile products - labels should include appropriate instructions to help consumers care for the item
  • ingredient labelling of cosmetics and toiletries - labels must state the ingredients to help consumers compare products, identify ingredients and avoid adverse reactions
  • tobacco labelling – tobacco products must carry required health warnings which comprise graphic images, warning messages, explanatory messages and information messages.

The law also allows Australian governments to regulate consumer goods or product-related services by imposing mandatory safety standards.

For more information, visit the Mandatory information standards section of the Product Safety Australia website.

Business responsibilities

Suppliers, manufacturers, importers, distributors, hirers and retailers must:

  • ensure products and services they supply comply with relevant information standards, if sold within Australia
  • be familiar with information standards relevant to those products and services.

Where to get information standards

For a full list of existing mandatory information and safety standards, visit the Mandatory standards section of the Product Safety Australia website.

For information on product measurement labelling, visit the Industry and trade section of the National Measurement Institute website.

Penalties

Supplying products and services that do not comply with a relevant information standard is an offence.

The maximum penalty is $1.1 million for a body corporate and $220,000 for an individual. Civil penalties for the same amount apply.

Breaching an information standard can also lead to:

  • injunctions
  • damages
  • compensatory orders
  • corrective advertising orders
  • adverse publicity orders.

Where to next: