As a result of industry concern following country of origin labelling reforms in 2018 the Australian Government introduced regulations to allow more sponsors of complementary healthcare products to use "Australian made" claims. Further reforms are now underway.
As a start, the Australian Government introduced the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Australian Consumer Law―Country of Origin Representations) Bill 2020 in June 2020. The Bill is the first of three steps and will create an explicit power to prescribe one or more processes to satisfy the definition of "substantially transformed" for the purpose of the country of origin provisions in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The second step will be a change to the Competition and Consumer Regulations 2010 to prescribe one or more processes for this purpose.
The third and final step will be the creation of an information standard for Australian manufactured complementary medicines that governs the labelling of complementary medicines that include country of origin claims. This information standard is currently the subject of consultation.
The Discussion Paper released for this purpose contains a number of discussion points on specific provisions of the proposed standard, including:
- the way in which the relevant proportion of Australian ingredients will be measured, including the way in which water will be accounted for and the various methods that can be used to average ingredient inputs;
- the way in which the proportion of Australian ingredients on a product will be displayed, including by use of a bar chart and accompanying statement;
- Sales to which the new standard will apply. It is proposed that the standard only apply to complementary medicines that are suitable for retail sale in Australia and not for special medical purposes to hospitals or other medical institutions in Australia. It will also not apply to products solely manufactured for export;
- the way in which the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo will be required to appear, should sponsors choose to apply for a licence to use the logo; and
- general legibility requirements, including changes to the way in which the labelling requirements would apply to small containers.
A 12-month transition period has been proposed for sponsors who may wish to rely on the reforms. Products that have been correctly labelled under the existing regulations would not need to be re-labelled at the end of the transition period. Those labelled after the transition period would however be subject to the reforms to the extent sponsors wished to make country of origin claims under the Act. Products that satisfy the current test for "substantial transformation" will not be required to display the proportion of Australian ingredients, but may voluntarily do so.
This consultation closes on 24 September 2020. If you'd like to know more, or want help with your submission, please contact us.