The Newsletter of the Food Regulation Secretariat - Issue 1 Oct 2004

An initiative of the Australian Federal, State and Territory and New Zealand Governments

Page last updated: 08 October 2013

PDF printable version of the Food Regulation Secretariat newsletter Issue 1 Oct 2004 (PDF 48 KB)

Issue 1 October 2004
ISBN: 0 642 82515 7

For our stakeholders

Welcome to the very first issue of the Food Regulation Secretariat’s Newsletter. The newsletter will be printed regularly to provide you with an update on food regulation policy work.
The Food Regulation Secretariat is reviewing its database of stakeholder contacts to ensure that it is correct and that relevant stakeholders are included. The database will allow the Food Regulation Secretariat to keep stakeholders informed of new developments in food policy.

The Secretariat will use the database to send information such as Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council) Communiques, notice of new items posted on the website, such as Policy Consultation papers, and of course, The Newsletter of the Food Regulation Secretariat.

If you are not on our database or your contact details have changed please contact the Secretariat at:
Food Regulation Secretariat
PO Box 4, WODEN ACT 2606
Email: Food Regulation Secretariat
Phone: (02) 6289 5128
Fax:: (02) 6289 5100

Please also tell us whether you prefer to receive information by fax or e-mail. You can also pass this information on to anyone you think may be interested in registering on the database.

For further information about the food regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand, please visit the Food Regulation Secretariat website.

Current policy development

The following food regulation policy items are under consideration.

Review of the intent of Standard 2.9 – Special Purpose Foods

The scope and intent of the Food Standards Code Part 2.9 – Special Purpose Foods is currently being reviewed.

Status: The terms of reference for the review are being considered by Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) Working Group.Top of page

Fortification with Other Substances

To develop a policy guideline on the fortification of foods with substances other than vitamins and minerals.

Status: The FRSC Working Group is currently considering the approach to be taken in developing policy guidance on the fortification of foods with substances other than vitamins and minerals.

Current policy development continued

Food Safety Risk Profiling

A guiding principle for regulating food safety in Australian food businesses is that the degree of regulation should be in proportion to the particular food safety risks relevant to each food business. This project aims to create an industry-wide system for gauging the food safety profile of food businesses, so that the risk status of particular food business groupings (sectors) can be determined.

A scoping study on food safety risk profiling of businesses was completed in September 2003 and this study was peer reviewed in early 2004. The FRSC Policy Working Group on Food Safety Management in Australia presented the review findings, and proposed further work, to FRSC at a meeting in July 2004. The Working Group recommended that the project progress to the next stage (development); this will involve identifying an appropriate risk profiling system.

Principles and Protocols for Food Policy Development

The ‘Principles and Protocols for setting Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council Policy Guidelines’ document was endorsed by the Ministerial Council at its meeting in May 2002. The document clarifies the scope of policy guidelines for the regulation of food, the process for their development, and the roles of the policy departments and regulatory agencies in the various jurisdictions. At the time of endorsement it was agreed that this document is a work in progress and as such, needs to be reviewed regularly.

Since the document was first endorsed, a great deal of experience has been accumulated through the development of several food policy guidelines under the new food regulatory system. As a result, FRSC agreed during its meeting of 13 December 2002 to undertake a review of the Principles and Protocols document.

Valuable input to the review of the document was provided during the Food Policy Stakeholder Consultation Forum held in March 2004.

On 28 May 2004, the Ministerial Council agreed to endorse the report from the Food Policy Stakeholder Consultation Forum and refer the report to FRSC for further action as appropriate (for more information see Completed Projects section).

Status: The principals and protocols document is currently being re-developed.Top of page

Completed policy development

The following policy guidelines have been completed and can be found on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.
  • Fortification of Foods with Vitamins and Minerals
  • Nutrition, Health and Related Claims
  • Food Safety Management in Australia: Food Safety Programs
  • Country of Origin Labelling
  • Novel Foods
  • Caffeine in Foods
  • Primary Production and Processing

Completed projects

Food Policy Stakeholder Consultation Forum

The Food Policy Stakeholder Consultation Forum was held on 30 March 2004. The aims of the Forum were:
  • to increase awareness of food policy issues and how the food regulatory system operates;
  • to enable stakeholders to provide their views on the policy guideline development process; and
  • to build relationships between stakeholders and those responsible for developing policy.
During its meeting of 28 May 2004, the Ministerial Council endorsed the draft report from the Forum and agreed to its public release. A copy of the report can be found on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.

Genetically Modified Food Labelling Review

At its meeting on 28 May 2004, the Ministerial Council noted that Australia and New Zealand’s Genetically Modified (GM) food labelling requirements remain amongst the most comprehensive in the world, and that industry compliance with labelling requirements has been very good. Ministers requested that FSANZ continue to monitor and report to Ministers on international trends on GM labelling.

Implementation Assessment Project

A national survey of food businesses has been conducted to find the most effective and efficient strategies for food safety legislation. This information was used to develop a ‘Best Practice Model’ for the future implementation of food legislation in Australia.

The ‘Best Practice Model’, is presented in the final report of the Food Safety Standards Implementation Assessment Project. Jurisdictions have been encouraged to follow the lead of New South Wales in adopting the ‘Best Practice Model’.Top of page

Coming up

Review of the Food Regulation Agreement

The Food Regulation Agreement is the inter-Governmental agreement, signed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), that gives effect to the establishment of a national approach to food regulation within Australia.

Status: Planning for the review of the Food Regulation Agreement is currently underway.

Treaty Review

The Australia New Zealand Joint Food Standards Treaty commits the two countries to seek Trans-Tasman harmonisation of food standards and to being consistent with the obligations of both countries as members of the World Trade Organization.

Status: Timeframes and processes for the review are currently being developed. Consultation between the relevant Australian Government departments and the New Zealand Government will commence in 2005.

Current projects and reviews

Review of Consultative Mechanism

At a meeting of the Ministerial Council on 4 April 2003, Ministers endorsed the Principles and Operating Protocols for Stakeholder Consultation (also known as the Consultative Mechanism). At the time of endorsement, Ministers specified that the Mechanism be reviewed after 12 months of operation. At its meeting in May 2004, the Ministerial Council agreed to the Terms of Reference and the approach for this review.

As the first step in this review, written submissions addressing the review's Terms of Reference were invited from interested stakeholders. This stage commenced on Monday 2 August 2004 and concluded on Friday 24 September 2004.

Face-to-face consultation forums with interested stakeholders will also be conducted as part of the review.
Dates and locations are as follows:
Melbourne – Friday 15 October 2004
Perth – Monday 18 October 2004
Sydney – Wednesday 20 October 2004
Brisbane – Thursday 21 October 2004
Canberra – Monday 25 October 2004

If you have not yet registered for the forums and would like to attend, please contact the booking officer on (02) 6289 3115.Top of page

The findings from the review will provide valuable information to guide the ongoing development of the stakeholder consultation framework for the development of food regulatory policy in Australia and New Zealand.

Current projects and reviews continued

Delivered Meals Organisations

The National Delivered Meals Organisations Food Safety Strategy is based on creating a range of specific resources for Delivered Meals Organisations (DMOs) across Australia, to guide them on best-practice food safety management. These resources will help DMOs to understand and comply with the national Food Safety Standards and guide them in developing and implementing their own business-specific food safety programs. The resources being developed will, in part, be based on the good practice guidelines, and other food safety tools, that are already in use by some DMOs.

Iodine Deficiency

At the Ministerial Council meeting of 1 August 2003, Ministers noted the increasing evidence of iodine deficiency in Australia and New Zealand. The meeting supported a national Australian iodine nutrition study to provide further data on emerging deficiencies and help guide future action in relation to fortifying food with iodine. It is expected that the study will be completed later in 2004. At the Ministerial Council meeting on 28 May 2004, Ministers agreed that mandatory fortification of food with iodine (and folate) should be considered as a priority. This work was referred to FSANZ.

Maximum Residue Limit Harmonisation

Currently there is a time lag between the approval processes of the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), and those of FSANZ. This may result in a chemical being approved for use by farmers, but the resulting food being illegal for sale. The Ministerial Council has agreed to reconcile the FSANZ and APVMA assessment and approval processes for Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs). The aim is to establish one set of published MRLs that regulate safe food and safe chemical use in agriculture.Top of page

Current projects and reviews continued

Food Safety Program Tools

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing is developing a group of tools to assist businesses to upgrade their food safety management systems. This includes tools to help businesses implement their own site-specific food safety program with minimum cost ad time. Each tool focuses on a specific sector: commercial food service establishments, children’s services, small and medium hospitals, nursing homes and the seafood sector.

The Children’s Services and Commercial Food Service Establishments tools have been completed and will soon be published and distributed to State and Territory Health Departments. The remaining tools will be finalised later this year. It is expected that each jurisdiction will customise the tools to reflect the regulatory requirements in their jurisdiction.

Appointments

FSANZ Board Appointments

The appointment terms of three FSANZ Board members expired on 30 June 2004. Dr Laurence Eyres replaced Professor Raymond Winger as New Zealand government representative. Two other members, Professor Christopher Hudson and Dr Heather Yeatman, have been reappointed.

The terms of seven of the existing 12 members of the Board are due to expire on 30 June 2005. The Department of Health and Ageing in consultation with the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) are pursuing a number of new initiatives in relation to the process for this next round of nominations.Top of page