An investigation by the ACCC has found Birds Eye’s ‘Made in Australia’ fish are actually imported from South Africa and the United States – and now they’re banned from using the label
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has ordered its American parent company Simplot to change its country of origin labelling.
Birds Eye and I&J crumbed and battered fish made after October 31 this year must now be labelled as ‘Packed in Australia’.
The competition regulator said imported fish from South Africa, the United States and New Zealand could not be labelled as being ‘Made in Australia’ as this breached consumer law.
The ACCC’s deputy chairman Mick Keogh said labelling products as being ‘Made in Australia’ when the ingredients were imported was misleading to consumers.
He said 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.’
Frozen fish packaged before November 1 will still be on supermarket freezer shelves as ‘Made in Australia’ after ACCC compliance checks on Simplot Australia uncovered the origins of the packaged fish.
Simplot Australia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American food processing giant J.R. Simplot, had argued that slicing, crumbing and par-frying of the frozen fish constituted substantial transformation, justifying the use of the ‘Made in Australia’ tag.
The ACCC disagreed with Mr Keogh arguing the substantive product was still imported even if the fish had been significantly modified in Australia.
‘Processes that only change the form or appearance of imported ingredients or components no longer qualify as substantial transformation,’ he said.
Simplot sells Birds Eye, I&J, Neptune, Captain’s Catch and Ocean Royale.
Food sold in Australia since 2016 has had to contain country of origin information.
The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Country of Origin) Act 2017 stipulated a product had to be grown or produced locally, and not just modified, to be labelled as being ‘Made in Australia’.
With the Daily Mirror