New Legislation Mandates Disclosure of Seafood Origins in Australian Restaurants

by Ella

In a move towards greater transparency in the food industry, Australian restaurants will soon be required to disclose the origin of their seafood under a new law set to be implemented. The decision was unanimously agreed upon by state and federal consumer affairs ministers on Friday, November 24.

Previously, country of origin labelling (COOL) was mandatory only for supermarkets and other retail businesses. However, with the upcoming legislation, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and clubs will now be obligated to label their seafood with indicators such as Australian (A), international (I), or mixed origin (M).


Tim Ayres, the assistant minister for manufacturing and trade, emphasized that the decision strikes a balance between informing consumers and minimizing costs for businesses. The move comes in response to the rising concerns and discussions within the fishing and seafood industry regarding the sourcing of products.


Proponents of mandatory labelling argue that it will provide consumers with increased transparency, particularly as the importation of seafood into Australia continues to grow. The new regulations are set to address potential issues of businesses hiding behind loose regulations and ensure consumers have accurate information about the origin of the seafood they consume.


Chef Michael Bacash, who has operated his renowned restaurant in South Yarra, Melbourne, for 22 years, supports the new law despite acknowledging it may not significantly impact his establishment. He emphasized the importance of consumers knowing the origin of their seafood, citing concerns about businesses that have been concealing information behind lax regulations. Bacash highlighted the moral aspect of the issue, questioning why consumers would pay a premium for frozen seafood when fresh options are available.


The new legislation is slated to take effect in 2025, providing a transition period during which the government will collaborate with the hospitality industry to facilitate the implementation of these regulations. This move signifies a commitment to ensuring greater transparency and accountability within the Australian foodservice sector.



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