Waiter carrying plates with meat dish

New seafood labelling laws for small businesses in hospitality

Commissioner remains deeply concerned about small business impact

30 November, 2023

Australian Consumer Affairs Ministers have agreed to implement new seafood labelling laws, a move the NSW Small Business Commissioner has warned could harm small business in the hospitality sector.

The Ministers issued a joint statement on 27 November 2023, saying they had “committed to improving transparency for consumers by supporting the introduction of country-of-origin labelling requirements for seafood in hospitality settings”.

Commissioner Chris Lamont again warned of the potential consequences, including greater than anticipated costs if cafes and restaurants are required to replace their menus whenever their seafood sourcing arrangements change.

“Unfortunately, many small businesses will be unaware of proposed changes in respect to seafood labelling requirements and may face fines and penalties in the future for not complying with the soon to be introduced laws,” Commissioner Lamont said.

Feedback to the Commission suggests new labelling requirements would require small businesses to replace their menus at an average cost of $2,800 each time they changed the source of seafood.

In response to a Discussion Paper published by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science and Resources the Commissioner said country of origin labelling could result in significant additional compliance costs for a sector particularly hard hit by COVID-19, labour shortages, interest rate rises and increasing input costs.

The laws may also disadvantage the Australian seafood industry if businesses find it easier to comply with the new laws by electing to source imported seafood in preference to the local product.

Read the Commission’s submission on the proposed labelling laws.