The owners of Birds Eye have amended the country of origin labelling on 31 frozen fish products, which had incorrectly stated that the products were ‘Made in Australia’.
Following compliance checks, the ACCC had raised concerns that the products had displayed a ‘Made in Australia’ mark when the imported frozen fish may not have been substantially transformed in Australia.
Simplot Australia’s brands were using fish imported from a few countries including New Zealand, United States and South Africa.
Under Australian Consumer Law’s Country of Origin labelling provisions, if a food product is packed in Australia without being substantially transformed, it cannot display a ‘Made in Australia’ mark.
The ACCC raised its concerns with Simplot, which has since agreed to change its country of origin labelling to ‘Packed in Australia’.
The frozen fish products were sold under the brand names Birds Eye, I&J, Neptune and one home brand product.
Simplot had thought that slicing, crumbing, and par-frying the frozen fish in Australia constituted substantial transformation.
However, ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh, said that processes that only change the form or appearance of imported ingredients no longer qualifies as substantial transformation.
“Country of origin labels are designed to inform consumers, some of whom may be willing to pay a premium for products they think are made in a particular country, especially Australia.
“Not only can incorrect labelling wrongly influence consumers into purchasing a certain product, it can also give a competitive advantage to those who use the ‘Made in Australia’ label in breach of the Australian Consumer Law,” Keogh said.
“We are pleased that Simplot co-operated with the ACCC investigation and agreed to make changes to its labelling, and on this basis, we decided to resolve this matter administratively without taking enforcement action.”
All Simplot frozen fish products manufactured after 31 October will have the ‘Packed in Australia’ mark but products with the ‘Made in Australia’ mark may still be available in-store until sold out.