Businesses must not make false or misleading representations about the country of origin of products.
A representation about country of origin can include words, a picture or both, indicating that products were made, produced or grown in a particular country.
The representation can be either:
- attached to the products - for instance, on a label
- in promotional material linked to the products.
Words or pictures that are an essential part of the products are not necessarily a representation about country of origin.
A t-shirt with a ‘Made in Australia’ label makes a representation about country of origin. A t-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Australia’ as part of its design, does not.
When there is no country of origin representation, businesses must be careful not to imply one by other statements or signs associated with the products.
A person may buy a ‘genuine Turkish rug’ believing it is made in Turkey, when it is actually made in China.
Representations about country of origin include:
- ‘made in’ a specified country
- ‘produce of’, ‘product of’ or ‘produced in’ a country
- use of a prescribed logo
- claims that products, or ingredients or components, were ‘grown in’ a specified country.
Businesses are protected by the law when they make country of origin representations, provided they meet certain criteria. For more information, see our Criteria for country of origin claims page.
Country of origin labelling for food
From 1 July 2018, businesses must meet the requirements of the Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016, made under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The new standard will apply to food offered for retail sale in Australia, including in stores or markets, online or from a vending machine. The law will not apply to food sold in places such as restaurants, cafes, take-away shops and schools, or to food provided by caterers.
Businesses offering food products for retail sale in Australia may voluntarily adopt the new standard before 1 July 2018, but must still comply with the Food Standards Code, administered by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, until 1 July 2018.
Under the new system, most foods that are produced, grown or made in Australia will be required to display a label with:
- the kangaroo in a triangle system to help consumers easily and quickly identify the food’s Australian origin
- a text statement indicating that the food was grown, produced, or made in Australia
- a bar chart showing the minimum proportion of Australian ingredients by ingoing weight, shown as a percentage amount.
Labelling requirements will vary depending on the type of food product and whether it was grown, produced, made or packed in Australia or another country.
For most imported food (food that is grown, produced, made or packaged in a country other than Australia), the label should specify the country of origin in a clearly defined box.
For more information, visit the Australian Government’s food labelling website.
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