Australians will soon know exactly where their seafood is from when dining out, after the federal government passed a major change to labelling rules.
Country of origin labelling will be made mandatory for seafood at hospitality venues — including fish and chip shops — for the first time.
The decision comes after the government announced in 2022 that $1.6 million would be allocated to expanding the country’s country of origin labelling rules to increase transparency for consumers.
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The labelling model has been in place for most products in retail stores since 2018.
But there has been no national consistency when it came to seafood in restaurants and cafés.
Now, cafés, restaurants and take-away shops will need to tell customers where the catch is from, by labelling it as A for Australian, I for imported or M for mixed origin.
Spot the difference: The subtle change coming to your local fish and chip shop
Australia’s seafood imports largely consist of lower-value products such as frozen fillets, frozen prawns and canned fish, predominantly imported from Thailand, New Zealand and Vietnam, according to the Department of Agriculture.
The Boatshed Pyrmont manager Nick Lazaris says customers are interested in the seafood’s origin.
“People come in and they will ask, is that oyster from this particular farm or is this fish wild caught,” he told 7NEWS.
“It’s a major selling point.”
Federal, state and territory consumer ministers on Friday agreed to introduce the mandatory change, with the government to work with industry to adopt the changes.
Seafood Industry Australia CEO Veronica Papacosta says the industry is “absolutely elated” by the decision.
“It has been 15 years of campaigning,” she said.
“Consumers should have the right to make informed choices about the food they purchase and consume.
“With 62 per cent of seafood consumed in Australia being imported, it is imperative that consumers dining out have access to clear and accurate information about the origin of the seafood they are served.”
Businesses will have a transition period to help them adjust, with more details on the changes to be announced next year.