‘Don’t mince words’: Australian seafood industry commends Senate inquiry report into faux-meat labelling

‘Don’t mince words’: Australian seafood industry commends Senate inquiry report into faux-meat labelling

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) has welcomed the release of the Australian Government’s Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee inquiry into “Definitions of meat and other animal products” report, “Don’t mince words” released on February 24, 2022.

“On behalf of SIA and the broader Australian seafood industry I would like to welcome the release of the inquiry’s report, endorse the report’s 9 recommendations and thank the Committee Chair Senator Susan MacDonald, the Committee and the Secretariat for their time, hard work and most importantly, their support,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said.

“The definitions of meat and other animal products report is a timely examination of the food labelling regulatory framework intended to benefit and protect consumers,” Committee Chair Susan MacDonald said in the report. “Food categories have increasingly become blurred and claims on plant-based proteins have not been clearly regulated… As the new protein category in Australia expands from plant-based to cultured (trialling in Japan and others) and blended animal and plant proteins, Australia has an opportunity to identify the best regulator (health, consumer or other) and mandatory labelling requirements.”

“The inquiry’s recommendations are vital for the future of animal-based protein industries, including seafood to protect our name, definitions, brands, integrity systems,and most importantly our transparency with consumers,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said.

“The Committee’s recommendations support SIA’s key positions around protecting the use of animal protein terms and imagery as product descriptors, developing better and firmer definitions of animal products, and the development of plant-based protein’s market position. We welcome increased consumer competition however it is important it is done in a fair, honest and balanced regulatory environment. We endorse the report’s recommendation for plant-based proteins to establish themselves in a category of their own. We’ve seen successful category creation in the past with the development of margarine, and as the alternative protein category grows.

“We applaud the report’s recommendations and support from the Government for our great Australian seafood. This report supports our hardworking producers who continue to set international benchmarks by providing fresh, high-quality, sustainable seafood year-round, while exceeding regulatory requirements. We look forward to working with the government to implement these recommendations. 

“We’d like to acknowledge the hard work of the supporting agriculture industry and bodies including the Red Meat Advisory Council, Chicken Meat Federation, Sheep Producers, Australian Pork, and others meat producers who united on the cause; along with the industry members and stakeholders including who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and with government throughout this enquiry.” 

<ENDS> A copy of the Committee’s report can be found here

List  of Recommendations 

Recommendation 1

2.57 The committee recommends the Australian Government develops a mandatory regulatory framework for the labelling of plant-based protein products, in consultation with representatives from the traditional and plant-based protein sectors, food service industry and retailers.

Recommendation 2

2.60 The committee recommends the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reviews the placement of plant-based protein products in retailers’ stores, including online platforms. 

Recommendation 3

2.63 The committee recommends the Australian Government ensures the application of a mandatory regulatory framework is applicable to cultured meat products, in preparation for the introduction of those products onto the 

Australian market.

Recommendation 4

3.56 The committee recommends that, as part of its current review and modernisation of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1999, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) initiate a review in consultation with industry, of section 1.1.1—13(4) of the FSANZ Code and recommend exempting its application to named meat, seafood and dairy 

category brands. 

Recommendation 5

3.58 The committee recommends, on conclusion and application of the review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Code, that Food Standards Australia New Zealand develops guidelines to inform labelling and marketing practices for manufacturers of plant-based protein products.

Recommendation 6

4.42 The committee recommends the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission develops a National Information Standard that defines and restricts the use of meat category brands to animal protein products. This standard should include guidance on the use of livestock imagery for labelling and marketing of plant-based protein products. 

Recommendation 7

5.37 The committee recommends the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, examines measures to: strengthen the plant-based protein product sector’s capacity to source its products from Australian grown produce; and support investment opportunities into the Australian plant-based alternative product sector’s manufacturing infrastructure to foster competitiveness and market opportunities on the international market.

Recommendation 8

5.38 The committee recommends the Department of Agriculture, Water and the  Environment ensures that the plant-based protein product sector is supported to contribute to the Ag2030 goal of achieving a $100 billion agricultural sector by 2030.

Recommendation 9

6.47 The committee recommends that, as part of its review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1999, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), initiates consultations with stakeholders about amending the FSANZ Code to include :a definition of plant-based protein products; and minimum compositional requirements for plant-based protein products.