Those 'grown in Australia' potatoes might actually be from Belgium. Photo: iStock
Your shopping trolley may be filled with Belgian potatoes or juice made from Brazilian oranges, but as far as you're aware they're all "made in Australia".
Consumer groups are calling for an overhaul of food labelling in Australia, saying it is "confusing".
It is mandatory for all packaged foods in Australia to carry a country of origin claim, but currently there is nothing to specify which terms are used, consumer groups say.
Under current federal laws, food can be labelled "made in Australia", "Australia made", "manufactured in Australia" and "Australian owned", even if the food is from other countries.
The "product of" claim is much stricter than the general "made in" claim, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Consumer group Choice is now seeking the support of the federal government to simplify the country of origin claims, reducing the labels to just three claims: "Product of Australia", "manufactured in Australia" and "packaged in Australia".
Food policy advisor for Choice, Angela McDougall, said the proposed reforms will give credibility to the terms "product of Australia" and "manufactured in Australia".
"Australian consumers want to support Australian products. Knowing where our food comes from is very important to Australians, which is why these proposed changes are so important," she said.
By moving to the use of simpler terms, Ms McDougall said frozen vegetables could no longer say "made in Australia with local and imported ingredients", but say "packaged in Australia with Australian peas and carrots".
Woolworths spokesman Benedict Brook said the supermarket would ensure they meet any government legislation and work to help make their customers aware of the origins of their products.
"Woolworths has long held the view that country of origin information is a source of confusion, with many of our customers not understanding the difference between terms," he said.
"We support moves by the ACCC to further educate customers about these the meaning of these terms, but we also believe there is scope to further reform country of origin labelling to ensure it better assists customer choice, promotes locally produced food and can be accurately provided by food manufacturers and retailers."
"We already inform our customers where we source our produce. With oranges, for example, we now say it is 'a mix of Australian and American oranges'."