March 2, 2009


Australian group urges proper seafood labelling in foodservices


Fish cafes and restaurants should be forced to state clearly on menus the source of their seafood, local prawn and barramundi farmers said.


Local seafood farmers are fighting against a flood of cheaper imports. The Seafood Importers Association of Australasia estimated that 70 percent of seafood consumed in Australia is imported, mostly from China, Thailand, Vietnam and New Zealand.


Australians were misled as without clear labelling, they have no idea where the fish they ate came from, according to Australian Barramundi Farmers Association president Dr Ken Chapman, who is leading the push to extend country-of-origin labelling to all food outlets.


Fishmongers and other retail seafood outlets are obliged to state the country of origin of seafood since 2006, but restaurants, cafes and fish & chips shops are exempted.


During the 10 years to 2006-07, the quantity of imported prawns more than doubled, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said.


Consumers may not realise they were eating prawns imported from Asia, and while some overseas prawn farms were exemplary, others relied heavily on antibiotics and did not have Australia's strict standards, said Australian Prawn Farmers Association president Trevor Anderson.


But the use of imported seafood from Asia was a commercial reality for many businesses due to the price differences and how the local market could not meet demand, an industry player said.


Seafood Importers Association of Australasia chief executive Norman Grant said imports were strictly tested by the Australian Auarantine and Inspection Service.

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