Where does your fast food come from?
Knowing where your food comes from can help you make better choices. As well as giving you the option to support your local food industry, it’s also a way to help the planet – the fewer food miles your food has had to travel, the better.
Since July 2018, it’s been mandatory for all food products sold in retail stores to display the country of origin on the label. But some food products are exempt, including food sold for immediate consumption at fast food outlets and cafes.
But now one of Australia’s biggest fast food outlets has made the move to adopt country of origin labelling, prompting calls for other fast food chains to follow suit so that Australian consumers can know where their burgers and fries are coming from.
McDonald’s has announced its commitment to display the country of origin of the ingredients in their products – a move that AUSVEG, the peak industry body for Australia’s vegetable and potato growers, says is a show of faith to the hard work and dedication of Australia’s farmers in providing high-quality food to Australian consumers.
“Fast food retailers should be upfront as to their food’s origin, particularly given Australian farmers produce enough food for the domestic market and to continue to supply international markets,” says AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside. “Australian consumers have a strong preference to buy locally-grown food and they have a right to know where their food comes from.”
The country of origin labels that are mandatory for products sold in retail provide more information to consumers about their food, but the system’s impact is lessened by not being applied equally across all food sellers, Whiteside claims.
“While the labelling system provides consumers with more information about where a lot of their food comes from, it is an inconsistent, two-tiered approach that is problematic for consumers and needs the fast food industry to get on board and commit display the country of origin on their food products,” he says.
“We urge the rest of the fast food industry, and other industries which are exempt from mandatory labelling, to adopt country of origin labelling so that consumers can make more informed purchasing decisions.”
McDonald’s Australia CEO Andrew Gregory says that the company has worked with the Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud to develop a Country of Origin webpage to help showcase how much Australian produce goes into McDonald’s products.
“We have always been and remain committed to supporting local suppliers and farmers, and are firm believers in the quality and taste of Australian homegrown produce,” he says.
“Many of our long-standing partnerships with Aussie suppliers and farmers have spanned multiple decades. We are very proud to be buying Australian, serving local ingredients and supporting our agriculture industry every day of the year.”
Minister Littleproud has welcomed McDonald’s move, saying it will empower consumers to back Australian farmers and challenge other big fast food franchises to follow Macca’s lead.
“I’ve been working with major fast food outlets since 2018 to introduce a voluntary display of the amount of Australian ingredients used in their products and now McDonald’s has committed, which is a great win for Australian consumers and farmers,” Littleproud says.
“Unfortunately, some major outlets refused to even attend the round tables I set up to engage on the issue, but McDonald’s always showed a commitment to the process and the outcome. Consumers should have the information of where the food they are eating is from and this move empowers them to support a fast food franchise outlet that does that.
“I encourage other outlets to get on board or be left behind and be transparent with consumers and support Australian producers.”