Australia to introduce country-of-origin labelling after hepatitis A outbreak
By Colin Packham
SYDNEY Feb 26 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott backed plans on Thursday to introduce country-of-origin labelling in the wake of a hepatitis A outbreak, potentially risking contravention of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
With 18 confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to consumption of berries sold by Patties Foods Ltd, Abbott said he had asked members of his Cabinet to draft legislation by the end of March to provide greater transparency to consumers.
It marked a reversal of his previous position that such legislation would raise the cost of food.
Australia was among plaintiffs against the United States after it introduced its own stronger country-of-origin labelling laws for beef products last year.
The WTO ruled against the United States in October, arguing that country-of-origin labelling provided an incentive to favour domestic livestock.
Gerard McManus, a spokesman for Australia's agricultural minister, said Abbott had told the minister to ensure the proposed legislation did not fall foul of WTO legislation.
Abbott had previously been reluctant to support country-of-origin labelling, insisting it would make food more expensive.
However, he said on Thursday efforts would be made to ensure the impact would be as small as possible. Continuación...