AUSTRALIA - The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) investigation into the labelling of Wagyu beef produced and marketed in Australia by organisations within the Wagyu industry has been dropped.
The competition watchdog has conducted a thorough investigation, and looked into whether the labelling could mislead the public.
The ACCC said it has carefully considered the information obtained during its investigation and at this stage the information does not indicate clearly that a contravention of the above sections of the ACL has taken place. As a result, the ACCC is not pursuing this matter any further at this time.
The Australian Wagyu Association (AWA) assisted with the investigation. ''We welcome this announcement from the ACCC and continue to support the truth in labelling principals so fundamental to Australian Consumer Law,” said the President and Board Chairman Peter Gilmour.
“As the peak body for the Wagyu industry in Australia, AWA is an advocate for truth in labelling” he said.
The AWA has developed Trade Descriptions to assist AWA members on how best to describe Wagyu and crossbred Wagyu cattle that contribute to breeding and Wagyu beef brands. The Trade Descriptions are based around the breed content of the live animal.
These Trade Descriptions are also endorsed by the peak body for national industry standards in meat production and processing, AUS-MEAT, under its raising claims protocol.
The ACCC further commented: "There is currently a Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee inquiry into the effect of market consolidation on the red meat processing sector (the Inquiry).
"Some submissions to the Inquiry have raised concerns about the potential for the language and labelling used in the promotion of meat quality/grades to mislead or deceive consumers. In particular, submissions have expressed the need for a language review, and the need for heightened consumer awareness of the MSA grading system with regard to intramuscular fat, marbling, meat colour and tenderness.
"As these issues are relevant to the concerns raised with the ACCC concerning Wagyu labelling, the ACCC has taken the opportunity to bring these concerns to the Committee's attention. We consider the Inquiry to be the most appropriate forum to consider this matter."
“The AWA will continue to communicate with our members regarding the Senate Inquiry and how we may support appropriate labelling to be used in the promotion of meat quality and grades. We encourage all live cattle sectors of the Wagyu value chain to use the Wagyu Trade Descriptors to ensure integrity in this premium market,” said Mr Gilmour.
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