If you’ve ever wondered (or worried) about where the fish on your plate comes from, we have some good news. Under a forthcoming law, all Australian restaurants will soon have to disclose the origin of their seafood.
On Friday November 24, state and federal consumer affairs ministers unanimously agreed to implement country of origin labelling (COOL), which was previously only required at supermarkets and other retail businesses. Restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs will now have to label seafood as Australian (A), international (I) or mixed origin (M).
Tim Ayres, the assistant minister for manufacturing and trade, said the decision “strikes the right balance between informing consumers while minimising costs to businesses.”
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Country of origin labelling has been a hot-topic issue for the fishing and seafood industry. Producers argue mandatory labelling will provide more transparency for consumers, especially as seafood imports into Australia increase.
Chef Michael Bacash has run his eponymous restaurant in South Yarra, Melbourne for 22 years. It’s famous for the quality of its seafood. While conceding that the new law “won’t make a little bit of difference” to his practice, he nonetheless supports it.
“From a moral point of view, we think it’s very important that people know where they get their seafood from,” he says, noting that some businesses have been “hiding” behind loose regulation. “Why would you pay $100 for a frozen crayfish when you could pay $100 for fresh crayfish?”
The new regulations won’t come into effect until 2025. The government has said it will work with the hospitality industry to help implement the new regulations during a transition period.