The Australian parliament recently passed the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Australian Consumer Law – Country of Origin Representations) Bill 2020 on October 27.
A key part of the bill amendment is to expand the number of criteria which allows firms to use ‘Australia made’ claims as listed in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. In fact, the list of new criteria was already introduced as interim arrangements since last December.
With the bill amendment, a product that has undergone certain types of last step manufacturing in a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)-licensed facility in Australia will be considered ‘substantially transformed’ and can make the country of origin claim.
Before the bill amendment, a product is only considered ‘substantial transformed’ if the last step process results in the goods having a ‘fundamentally different’ identity, nature, or essential character from all of their imported ingredients or components.
The bill amendment has allowed more processes that occur in a TGA-licensed facility in Australia to qualify as ‘substantial transformation’, even if the processes do not result in the goods having a ‘fundamentally different’ identity, nature, or essential character.
However, the covering of the products in containers, packaging, labelling, storage, testing, and release of the product for supply do not amount to ‘substantial transformation’.
Country of origin claims can be made using words and/or pictures and it is voluntary to make such claims.
“The new legislation gives us long term certainty for products that are manufactured in a TGA licensed facility the ability to make ‘Made in Australia’ claims,” Carl Gibson, CEO at Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) said in response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia.
The bill amendment was made in response to calls from the complementary medicines industry on stricter regulations introduced in 2017.
A prominent case was Nature’s Care and its court dispute with Australian Made Campaign Limited (AMCL) on whether its fish oil capsules were eligible for the ‘made in Australia’ claim.
The Federal Court ruled that the goods did not satisfy the definition of ‘Made in Australia’, as it said that the mere encapsulation of the fish oils did not represent ‘substantial transformation’ of a product under the Australian Consumer Law.
“These traders were of the view their products did not meet the ‘substantially transformed’ definition in the Act, they raised concerns that they could not meet the requirements to lawfully use the ‘Australian Made, Australian Grown’ logo.
“This amendment package is being made to give producers of complementary medicines manufactured in Australia improved access to the safe harbour provisions related to Australian origin claims,” said the amendment bill.
While the CMA is supportive of the new arrangement, it raised concerns about complementary products needing to display a bar chart to highlight breakdown of ingredients coming from Australia.
“As this represents a significant regulatory burden and will cause uncertainty in addition to negatively impacting industry and Australian jobs, we remain in close consultation with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources,” CMA said in a statement.