The Newsletter of the Food Regulation Secretariat - Issue 2 June 2005

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 2 June 2005 (PDF 73 KB)

Issue 2 June 2005
ISBN: 0 642 82515 7

For our stakeholders

Welcome to the second issue of our Newsletter. We have made great progress on improving our database. Please let us know if your contact details changed or you know of anyone who might be interested in receiving the newsletter. Our contact details are:
Address: PO Box 4, Woden ACT 2606
Email: Food Regulation Secretariat
Phone: (02) 6289 5128
Fax: (02) 6289 5100

Current policy development

The following food regulation policy items are under consideration.

Review of the intent of Standard 2.9 – Special Purpose Foods

The Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council) considered the terms of reference for this review on 31 March 2005. The terms of reference will now be referred to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Principles and Protocols for Food Policy Development

The Ministerial Council endorsed the Principles and Protocols for the Development of Food Regulation Policy in May 2002. These Principles and Protocols clarify the scope of policy guidelines for the regulation of food, set out the process for their development, and define the roles of policy departments and regulatory agencies. The Ministerial Council agreed that the Guidelines need to be reviewed regularly.

Experience to date in developing policy guidelines, and the outcomes of a Stakeholder Consultation Forum held in March 2004, have been used to update the Principles and Protocols to include:
  • clearer documentation of the processes/options for stakeholders to have input to policy development, and to raise issues of concern with the Ministerial Council and/or the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC);
  • information on how submissions on food policy issues will be used and made available to the public, and how this information should be communicated to stakeholders;
  • recognition of the need to adequately scope policy development processes. This will ensure that issues and relevant expertise are appropriately canvassed prior to the development of policy options consultation papers; and
  • clearer articulation of the relevant stages in the policy development process, to allow for stakeholder participation and to provide feedback on progress with the development of guidelines.
The revised Principles and Protocols have now been endorsed by the Ministerial Council, and will be made available on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.Top of page

Addition to food of substances other than Vitamins and Minerals

In May 2004, the Ministerial Council endorsed a Policy Guideline on Fortification of Food with Vitamins and Minerals, and agreed that further work should be undertaken on the addition to food of substances other than vitamins and minerals.

The first stage of this work will involve identifying key issues, such as the range of substances other than vitamins and minerals that might be added, and the advantages and disadvantages of permitting the addition of these substances to foods.

The Food Regulation Standing Committee released an Issues Paper that seeks comments from all interested persons. This paper is intended as a discussion starter only. None of the issues articulated in it should be construed as representing the view of the national regulatory framework, or any of the agencies participating in the framework.

The paper can be accessed through the Food Regulation Secretariat website, or may be obtained by telephoning the Food Regulation Secretariat on (02) 6289 5128.

Submissions closed on 1 April 2005.

Following this initial consultation, a FRSC Working Group will develop a policy options paper. Stakeholder views will be sought again prior to developing any draft policy guideline.

Review of the FSANZ Assessment and Approval Process

In July 2004, FRSC agreed to establish a Steering Committee to review the FSANZ Assessment and Approval Process.

The review will look at legislative and other impediments that may protract FSANZ processes, and that prevent protection of commercial information. The review will also compare the FSANZ Act with other Australian and New Zealand legislation that establishes assessment and approval processes. The intention is to obtain advice on ways to speed up current assessment and approval processes.

Any recommendations arising from the review must be consistent with FSANZ Act requirements to protect the public interest.

Food Safety Risk Profiling

A call for tenders to develop a ‘Risk Profiling Tool’ for Australian food business sectors across the whole food supply chain, has now closed.

The intention is to develop a practical tool that will mean that the risk of various food safety business sectors can be assessed. This risk profiling will be used to ensure that food safety regulatory requirements are proportional to risk.

Tenders for the development of the tool are currently being assessed.Top of page

More for our stakeholders

Ministerial Council Priority List (Workplan)

A copy of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council Workplan can be accessed on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.
Look under the heading 'Priority list for the Food Regulatory System', via the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council page.

Food Regulatory System

One of the most important features of the Australia/New Zealand food regulatory system reforms, which took effect on 1 July 2002, is the separation of policy decision making from the development of standards.

Under current arrangements, policy guidance is agreed by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, and then used by the statutory authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, to guide the development of food standards for the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

The Australian Federal and State and Territory Governments, together with the New Zealand Government, are represented on the Ministerial Council.

To ensure a whole-of-government approach to food policy regulation, Ministers nominated to the Ministerial Council may represent either the health portfolio or other relevant portfolios such as agriculture or consumer affairs. Agencies supporting Ministers on the Council have a responsibility to ensure that policy development is inclusive and transparent, and that Ministers have available the full spectrum of community views when they are considering policy for food regulation.

Effective consultation is a key feature of the food regulatory system. The Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council invites interested members of the public to comment on draft policy options for food regulation. The Food Regulation Standing Committee, its various working groups and the Food Regulation Secretariat are some avenues for public participation in the development of food regulation policy. Further information can be found on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.Top of page
This diagram illustrates the decision-making process for food policy.

Current projects and reviews

Review of the Consultative Mechanism

The Ministerial Council endorsed a Consultative Mechanism (more formally called ‘the Principles and Operating Protocols for Stakeholder Consultation’) in April 2003. At that time, Ministers asked that the Consultative Mechanism be reviewed after 12 months of operation.

The terms of reference for the review were agreed by the Ministerial Council in May 2004.

Stakeholders were invited to participate in the review in a number of ways. This included lodging a written submission, attending consultation forums, and/or being interviewed on the telephone.

A summary of the consultation is available from the Food Regulation Secretariat website under the heading 'Previous Consultation Items', which is accessed through the 'Items for Consultation' link.

The Ministerial Council considered a report on the review at its meeting on 31 March 2005.

The report is publicly available on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.Top of page

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. These resources will:
  • provide advice to DMOs on best- practice food safety management;
  • help DMOs to comply with the national Food Safety Standards; and
  • guide DMOs in implementing their own business-specific food safety programs.
The resources will take account of the good practice guidelines, and other food safety tools, already in use by some DMOs. They are expected to be available for use later in 2005.

Maximum Residue Limit Harmonisation

Currently, there can be a time lag between the approval processes of the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), and those of FSANZ. The result may be that a chemical can be used by farmers, but the resulting food cannot be sold.

The Ministerial Council has agreed to harmonise the FSANZ and APVMA assessment and approval processes for Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs). Work is continuing to establish one set of published MRLs that regulate safe food and safe chemical use in agriculture.


FSANZ Board Appointments

The terms of seven of the existing 12 members of the Board are due to expire on 30 June 2005. The upcoming vacancies were advertised in Australian and New Zealand newspapers in December 2004. Organisations eligible to nominate were invited to submit nominations, which have now closed.

The Food Regulation Standing Committee has made recommendations to the Ministerial Council on appointments, which will be announced publicly in due course.

Review of the Food Regulation Agreement

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

Planning for a review of the Food Regulation Agreement is currently underway.Top of page

Treaty Review

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

Timeframes and processes for a review of the Treaty are also being developed.

Consultation between relevant Australian Government departments and the New Zealand Government will commence later this year.

Completed policy develoment and projects

The following policy guidelines have been completed and can be found on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.