The Newsletter of the Food Regulation Secretariat - Issue 11 Feb 2011

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

Page last updated: 08 October 2013

PDF printable version of The Newsletter of the Food Regulation Secretariat Issue 11 February 2011 (PDF 57 KB)

Current projects and reviews

Final Report of the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy

On 27 January 2011, the Government received Labelling Logic, the Final Report on the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (the Review) from the Chair of the Review Panel, Dr Neal Blewett AC. The Final Report was publicly released on 28 January 2011 and is available online on the Food Labelling Review website.

The Review was commissioned by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council) and has been the subject of sustained interest from media, general public and other stakeholders.

This Review provides a comprehensive framework within which future food labelling law and policy can be determined. As well, using this framework, the Panel has made a wide range of specific recommendations to improve food labelling law and policy. Government will now consider the Final Report and its 61 recommendations. The development of a comprehensive, whole of government response to the Report will include a process for stakeholder consultation.

In formulating the Report, the Panel took into account the range of stakeholder views presented through submissions and public consultation meetings, in addition to information gathered from government and non-government reports, consumer research, the scientific literature and other sources. The Panel has also given due consideration to the policies and experiences of other countries.

For the purpose of this Review, the term ‘food labelling’ included any information, representations and claims about foods that are, or could be, regulated under the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) or consumer protection laws. The Terms of Reference for the Review required the Panel to:
  1. Examine the policy drivers impacting on demands for food labelling.
  2. Consider what should be the role for government in the regulation of food labelling. What principles should guide decisions about government regulatory intervention?
  3. Consider what policies and mechanisms are needed to ensure that government plays its optimum role.
  4. Consider principles and approaches to achieve compliance with labelling requirements and appropriate and consistent enforcement.
  5. Evaluate current policies, standards and laws relevant to food labelling and existing work on health claims and front-of-pack labelling against terms of reference 1–4 above.
  6. Make recommendations to improve food labelling law and policy.
The Ministerial Council is responsible for developing a comprehensive response to the recommendations in the Final Report by December 2011. Jurisdictions will be working with the Commonwealth Government to formulate this response.Top of page

Completed policy documents (since December 2009)

The following policy documents have been completed and are on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.
  • Australia and New Zealand Enforcement Guideline - Front of Pack Labelling Policy Statement

Caffeinated Energy Drinks

Community concerns continue to be raised about the effects of the consumption of Caffeinated Energy Drinks (CEDs) and potential health risks, particularly on children and young people.

As part of the management of energy drinks, a national compliance strategy has been finalised to better identify and consistently enforce energy drinks that are non-compliant with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Code).

At their meeting on 3 December 2010, the Ministerial Council agreed that the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) undertake scoping work and advise on possible areas for further action. FRSC is due to report to the Ministerial Council on this matter in May 2011.

The Ministerial Council has also noted concerns raised regarding the practice of mixing alcohol and energy drinks and agreed to refer this issue to the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy for further advice.

Policies under development

Review of Infant Formula 2.9.1

The Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) Infant Formula Working Group is currently finalising a draft policy guideline for consideration by FRSC at their March 2011 meeting. The policy guideline is likely to then be considered at the Ministerial Council meeting in May 2011.

Review of the Policy Guideline for Food Safety Management

In October 2009, the Ministerial Council agreed to the Terms of Reference (ToR) for a review of the 2003 Ministerial Policy Guidelines on Food Safety Management in Australia – Food Safety Programs and to FRSC undertaking this review. FRSC agreed to review the Ministerial Policy Guidelines on Food Safety Management. This work is being undertaken by the Food Safety Management Working Group.

The ToR of the Working Group focus the review primarily on the general food service sector and consideration of unresolved policy issues relevant to the Risk Profiling Framework and the draft Food Safety Management Framework.

Stakeholder consultation occurred in late 2010 through written submissions and public consultation meetings in Melbourne and Sydney. Results of the consultations will shortly be available on the Food Regulation Secretariat website and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority website.

This work is due to be presented to the Ministerial Council in May 2011.Top of page

Meeting dates 2011

Please note: The following dates may be subject to change.
February:
Wed-Thur 15-16 - Implementation Sub Committee - SA
April:
Friday 1 - Food Regulation Standing Committee - NZ
May:
Friday 6 - Australia New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council - ACT
August:
Wed-Thur 10-11 - Implementation Sub Committee - TAS
October:
Friday 14 - Food Regulation Standing Committee - VIC
November:
Wed-Thur 16-17 - ISC Sponsors Planning Meeting - TAS
December:
Friday 9 - Australia New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council - VIC

FSANZ Board appointments 2010

Mr Tony Nowell has been appointed as New Zealand's new member of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Board. Mr Nowell has extensive experience at senior management and governance level in the food industry in the Australasian region.

Mr Nowell is currently a New Zealand representative on the APEC Business Advisory Council, the chair of the Manukau Food Innovation Centre Board and a member of the National Export Advisory Board of Business New Zealand. Mr Nowell commenced his appointment on 1 July 2010 for a term of three years.

For our stakeholders

Please let us know if your contact details have changed. If you know of anyone who might be interested in the receiving the newsletter, please register for our database on the website listed below. Secretariat contact details are:
PO Box 4, Woden, ACT, 2606
Email: Food Regulation Secretariat
Phone: (02) 6289 5128
Fax: (02) 6289 5100
Website: Food SecretariatTop of page

COAG Food Regulation Reforms

On 7 December 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a number of activities relating to food regulatory reform and assigned tight timeframes on the delivery of these. One of these initiatives was to establish centralised interpretive advice on food standards.

An important feature of the advisory system is that State and Territory governments, through signing of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), will adopt and apply the advice in their monitoring of compliance and enforcement activities. This will support greater consistency for industry.

In May 2010, the Ministerial Council agreed that FSANZ should be the preferred entity to perform the advisory service and that the scope of advice be initially restricted to Chapters 1 and 2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Code). An extension to Chapters 3 and 4 of the Code will to be considered following a review by the Ministerial Council two years after commencement of the service.

On 15 December 2010, the Business Regulation and Competition Working Group agreed that the draft IGA (with the preferred Ministerial Council approach) should go forward to COAG for out-of-session consideration.

A Steering Committee has been established to assist FSANZ develop the operational details required to commence the centralised interpretative advice service by 1 July 2011.

Amendments to the FSANZ Act—Streamlined Process for MRLs

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Amendment Act 2010 was passed by the Federal Parliament on 17 November 2010. The Act implements a COAG reform to streamline the process for setting Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals in the Food Standards Code.

Currently, there can be a large time delay between the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) setting an MRL relating to the use of an agvet chemical product, and FSANZ setting a corresponding MRL in the Food Standards Code to allow a chemical residue to be present in food. This can lead to a situation where a primary producer may legally use a particular chemical product on their crops and livestock, but may not legally sell the treated produce as a food.

Under the new system, once the APVMA has made a decision on setting an MRL in the course of approving an agvet chemical product registration or permit application, the APVMA can use that decision to vary the MRL Standard in the Food Standards Code. The new arrangements will significantly reduce the time lag between the two processes. They are expected to be in place in early 2011.Top of page