Labelling seafood

Friday, 08 October, 2004

Australia's first integrated food regulation agency and key seafood industry members have joined forces to make sure imported seafood is labelled correctly.

The Master Fish Merchant Association (MFMA) and Sydney Fish Markets (SFM) will join NSW Food Authority (NSWFA) in a training program to assist NSWFA staff identify prawn species and trace invoice systems as the first step in NSWFA's crackdown on labelling of imported seafood.

NSWFA Director-General George Davey said the agency had enthusiastically welcomed the involvement of MFMA and SFM in the training.

The NSW Food Authority, Australia's first single government agency regulating food from growing to eating, is responsible for enforcing the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code, the NSW Food Act 2003 and the state's food safety programs.

The Food Standards Code requires that certain information, such as country of origin, must be provided to consumers of packaged seafood and unpackaged seafood displayed for retail sale.

This means that businesses must display a sign which states either the country of origin or the description "imported" at the point of sale of imported fish and prawns.

Businesses are also obliged not to misrepresent the product (such as claiming imported prawns are local product).

Under the NSW Food Act 2003, the NSWFA can seek penalties of up to $55,000 for individuals and $275,000 for corporations that deceive consumers in the sale of food or who fail to properly label imports. Actions that jeopardise an individual's health could also draw a jail term of up to two years and double the penalties.

Seafood industry members are invited to contact the NSW Food Authority on telephone 1300 552 406 or email for labelling advice.

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