The Morrison Government is working to ensure imported food and grocery goods measure up for Australian households with a trade measurement audit program during 2022.
Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said inspectors from the National Measurement Institute (NMI) would audit importers over about six months from 4 January to 30 June 2022 as part of its 2021-22 National Compliance Plan.
Minister Price said the NMI inspectors would focus on oils and seasonings, pet foods, beverages, sanitisers and cleaning products, after reviewing data on non-compliance detected in previous inspections.
Importers are a trader type with consistently above average rates of non-compliance over recent years.
“Trade measurement inspectors will audit at least 400 importers nationwide and check a minimum of 8000 types of packaged goods to make sure they contain the amount of product stated on the label,” Minister Price said.
“Inspectors will also be reviewing documentation to show that importers have appropriate systems in place to make sure they are doing the right thing.
“The law is clear. Consumers should be able to make informed purchasing decisions and know what they are paying for.
“Just as importantly, Australian manufacturers who comply with our laws should be able to compete with imports on a level playing field.”
Minister Price said consumers had a right to be confident that the marked weight or volume of packaged products was accurate.
“If a container is marked 500ml then there should be 500ml of product in that container,” Minister Price said.
“Importers owe it to consumers to get it right. It is their responsibility to check that the goods they import are accurately labelled.
“The National Measurement Institute can issue fines to businesses found to be breaching the law and persistent offenders can face court action.”
Where non-compliance is found, NMI can issue infringement notices with fines of $1110 per offence. If the case is serious enough for a prosecution, the maximum fines are $222,000 per offence as a company or $44,400 per offence as an individual.