So you’ve created a new consumable product, and now your focus turns to how you’re going to sell it.

When creating labels and finalizing the packaging for your new product, it would help to think about the consumer and the things that you think they should know when using your product. Packaging and labelling is an important part of the development and marketing stages of your product, and there are certain rules that apply to the kind of information you must disclose to the consumer about what you’re selling, particularly for food products or therapeutic goods.

Food packaging 

The NSW Food Authority (“the Authority”) enforces national Food Standards Code, as well as the Food Act 2003.

Mandatory requirements for food labels are:

  • Name and description
  • Identification of the lot and batch number (food recall information)
  • The name and Australian street/business address of the supplier
  • List of ingredients
  • The shelf life of your product – Date mark and expiration date
  • Nutrition information panel
  • Country and origin of the food
  • Warning and advisory statements (particularly in regards to food allergies e.g. ‘this may contain traces of nuts’)

Food recalls at the trade or consumer level can happen as a result of faulty packaging, so it’s important to make sure you’ve got everything that needs to be there.

Exceptions apply to food that is unpackaged, such as catered food, food that is made and packaged on the premises e.g. a deli, delivered goods, such as pizza, cut fruit and vegetables.

The Authority does not regulate such things as barcodes and recycling codes, those are up to you!

If you are unsure about how you should package your food product, check the NSW Food Authority website available at http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/ for more information, or speak to a lawyer.

Therapeutic Goods & Cosmetics

The mandatory safety standards apply more so to therapeutic goods, such as prescription and non-prescription medicines and biological products, and cosmetics – targeting goods which are likely to be especially hazardous if not used correctly. For these kinds of products the same basic requirements for labelling that apply to food also apply, strictly with regard to active ingredients and their quantity. Additional requirements are the advisory statements e.g. “keep out of reach of children”, storage conditions and directions for use. You also need to make sure that these products are packaged in such a way so that children cannot open them.

For more information, visit the Department of Health – Therapeutic Goods Administration website at http://www.tga.gov.au/.

Other products

There are general mandatory product safety standards that all consumer goods and product-related services must satisfy, particularly those that contain chemicals or potentially hazardous ingredients. The mandatory information standards are there to ensure that consumers are provided with the important details of a particular product to enable them to make appropriate personal choices when they purchase, consume or use it.

Depending on what your product is, different rules will apply. You have ingredients labeling for cosmetics, health warnings and now plain packaging for tobacco products, as well as care labeling/washing instructions for clothing and textiles. Other product information can be in the form of symbols and graphics, which are recognized by consumers, such as energy efficiency star ratings on fridges and washing machines, or the Heart Foundation Tick of Approval on food products.

If you want these well-known symbols to feature on your product, talk to one of our trademark lawyers!

Conclusion

If you’re selling products to consumers, you might be required to communicate certain important details, and it can be easy to forget to include all of them.

You should also note that information on packaging in Australia must be in the English language and in durable, legible lettering that is not less than 1.5 millimetres in height.

To avoid any confusion as to the legal requirements expected of your new product and its packaging, speak with one of our experienced lawyers who will be more than happy to talk you through the process.

 

Lachlan McKnight

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