ASP Policy on Food and Product Certification and Labelling
There are two very important principles that are foundational to all ASP policy positions. The right to be fully informed, and the right to choose! Applying these two principles to the subject of product certifying and labelling, we propose the following:
In order to help ensure consumer confidence in the trustworthiness of a manufacturers claim to the quality and integrity of their food and consumer goods, and the right for consumers to be fully informed, The ASP will establish a new food and product labelling and certification framework.
All existing private food certifiers, whether that be for organic, vegan, gluten free, Halal, Kosher, GMO-FREE, Australian Made, Bio-dynamic, ISO standards, free from testing on animals, etc., all of these various certification bodies will be rolled into a new and fully transparent government run certifying administration.
There are many reasons as to why the ASP is proposing this new model. Currently, there are 7 different organic food certifiers accredited by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). Consumers that are looking for Organic certification on a product can be confused when being confronted by so many different organisations with their various labels, “who to trust, which accreditation has the most integrity, why does a company use one organic food certifier over another”?
It is important that consumers can have trust in a certifying body, so that they can make informed decisions. If there was one single trusted and transparent government agency responsible for providing certification on all products, whether it be to certify that a product is organic, or vegan, or gluten free, or Halal, or Australian made or all of the above, it would ensure greater public confidence in their food and product purchases.
There are currently so many different types of certifications for products, and often there are multiple and competing accreditors offering their certification services for the same product types. We believe that the consumer would be best served to know that a central governing body was handling all these certifications in an open, honest and trustworthy manner.
Another reason to establish a government run certifying administration, is to ensure that certification can be obtained at a reasonable cost to the manufacturer / producer. There are public concerns that various independent certifying bodies are charging fees well in excess of the actual costs involved in the certification process, and that these additional but unwarranted cost can often place undue pressure upon some companies, who must either bare these costs, or pass them onto the consumer.
The proposed government administered central certifying body would provide these certifications to companies on an “at cost basis”, and will do so to serve the public interests in being able to make informed decisions. Any certification awarded to Australian companies will be required by law to be clearly labelled on their product packaging, or where relevant, on the public price display on that item such as for fresh produce or loose meat products at a deli. The labelling will be of a standardised and publicly recognisable nature as established by the government certifying administration, thus enabling the public to make informed decisions.
In addition to companies who choose to seek after certification, all genetically modified foods, including imported foods, will be required by law to be clearly labelled as such. Any breech of this requirement will be met with severe penalties, and as part of the government certifying administration’s mandate, they will conduct random testing to ensure that consumers can remain confident in their decisions, and their right to be fully informed will be upheld.
Where relevant and necessary, the government certification administration will work with religious representatives to ensure the various religious requirements are being adhered to in respect to certifying products to meet the dietary requirements of their adherents, such as for Halal or Kosher. These religious representatives will be remunerated appropriately, according to the actual work involved in their certifying duties. Any companies receiving these particular certifications must clearly label their products as such.