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31 May 2014 | eLABORATE

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ACCC provides guidance on country of origin labelling

By Troy Williams

Regulatory Affairs Offshore Lab Work

Country of origin labels are valuable tools that allow consumers to make informed choices. In the case of dental laboratory products (referred to as custom-made devices for regulatory purposes), many consumers specifically seek out, or are willing to pay a premium for, Australian products that are made in Australia. Guidance on when and how products are labelled as such is invaluable to support the Australian dental laboratory sector's ability to compete on a level playing field. The dental laboratory sector's understandable desire for increased awareness of where products are made has partly been addressed as a result of new guidance on country of origin labelling published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).


This guidance will assist businesses in complying with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when making country of origin claims. The guidance will assist all manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers in deciding what claims are appropriate for their products.

The ACCC's guidance provides information and examples illustrating when businesses can say their goods are "Made in", "Product of" or "Grown in" Australia and includes advice on how a business can rely on the "safe harbour" provisions in the ACL.

Businesses making false or misleading representations could face penalties of up to $1.1 million under the ACL. In a recent case, the Federal Court ordered two companies supplying solar panels to pay a combined penalty of $145,000, in part, for making false and misleading country of origin representations. Further, Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd paid infringement notices totalling $61,200 for alleged misleading representations about the country of origin of fresh produce made in five of its stores between March 2013 and May 2013.

The guidance has been produced by the ACCC in consultation with an intergovernmental National Working Group chaired by the Department of Industry and Treasury and including the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Health; the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and Food Standards Australia New Zealand. As the peak business organisation representing dental product manufacturers and suppliers, the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) was invited by the Australian Government to help with specific country of origin issues prevalent within the dental industry.

For Australian laboratories, this guidance from the ACCC will help delineate their products from those made overseas. Transparency in country of origin will make it easier for the consumer to make more informed choices, thus supporting locally made product.

Troy Williams is the CEO of the Australian Dental Industry Assn. For further information, visit www.adia.org.au/labs

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