ABA Supports Truth in Beef Labeling Legislation

Directors of the Australian Beef Association have voted to support the beef grading bill introduced into the NSW Parliament by Independent Member Richard Torbay.

ABA Chairman Brad Bellinger said, “The bill was a first step towards truthful labelling and a small step towards a beef grading system with penalties for unscrupulous meat traders, who pass-off inferior beef as prime product.”

Unlike most developed countries, Australia does not have a beef grading system and consumers pay premium prices for an inconsistent product at the supermarket and at the same time Australia’s producers receive the lowest cattle prices in the developed world.

“The US has had a grading system for decades, and in the US beef costs about half as much at the supermarket and producers are paid 30-40% more for their cattle,” Mr Bellinger said.

ABA members are angry and disappointed with Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) and AgForce who criticised the bill. Grading has been a long-term industry objective officially supported by all industry sectors. The Torbay Bill is based on the recommendations of a recent RMAC working party report on grading.

Mr Bellinger said, “RMAC and AgForce had buckled under pressure from a minority of processors who did not want grading”.

“Processors claiming that it will add to their costs are really saying; we won’t be able to mis-label low quality beef and pass it off as good quality and this will add to our costs!” Brad said.

“I find it breathtaking that RMAC and AgForce don’t want government to enforce ‘truth in labelling’ laws in the retail and processing sectors, whilst at the same time, they supported the government’s imposition of the very costly and quite hopeless NLIS scheme on producers”.

“It appears that RMAC aren’t interested in truthful labelling for consumers and are only interested in defending ‘flexible’ labelling for processors and retailers,” Bellinger said.

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