The Newsletter of the Food Regulation Secretariat - Issue 3 Aug 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 3 August 2005 (PDF 76 KB)

Issue 3 August 2005
ISBN: 0 642 82515 7

For our stakeholders

Welcome to the third issue of our Newsletter. Please let us know if your contact details have 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 FSANZ Assessment and Approval Process

FRSC recently commissioned a review to seek advice on ways to expedite the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) assessment and approval process and ensure appropriate protections for confidential commercial information, while protecting public interest in accordance with the objects of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (the Act).

Public submissions were invited and forums held in Australia and New Zealand. A report is being drafted for consideration by Ministers later this year.

Addition to food of substances other than Vitamins and Minerals

In May 2004, the Ministerial Council agreed that work should be conducted on the addition to food of substances other than vitamins and minerals.

Scoping work on this issue has now been completed. A report of the scoping workshop and a summary of submissions in response to the issues consultation paper can be accessed through the Food Regulation Secretariat website under Previous Consultation Items, or may be obtained by telephoning the Food Regulation Secretariat on (02) 6289 5128.

Issues identified during the scoping phase are being used to develop a policy options paper. It is expected that the policy options paper will be released for public consultation in August 2005.Top of page

Food Safety Risk Profiling

A consortium, managed by the Australian Food Safety Centre of Excellence (AFSCoE), has been engaged to develop a Risk Profiling Tool for Australian food business sectors across the whole food supply chain.

The intention is to develop a practical tool that Government agencies will use to assess the food safety risk of various food business sectors. The risk profiling tool will also be used by Government agencies to ensure that food safety regulatory requirements are proportional to the level of risk.

Implementation and enforcement

Watchdog Support Role

ANZFRMC, through its Policy Guideline on Nutrition, Health and Related Claims, has endorsed the Implementation Sub Committee (ISC) to act as a ‘watchdog’ body and serve as the public face of the new health claims system. A Support Officer was employed in October 2004 to assist ISC in this health claims watchdog function.

The Support Officer’s role includes providing support to ISC in its role as the Nutrition, Health and Related Claims ‘watchdog’ including:
  • establishment and management of a complaints handling process;
  • collection and collation of information on the investigation and resolution of complaints;
  • preparation of regular reports to ISC and other bodies as appropriate on the status of complaints and other issues as required; and
  • the provision of jurisdictional/enforcement agency input to FSANZ on the creation and maintenance of a guideline document regarding Nutrition Health and Related Claims on foods.
To date, the Support Officer has undertaken a visit to each jurisdiction to learn about the current processes for managing health claim complaints, and identify implementation and enforcement issues.

Current projects and reviews

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.

At the March 2005 meeting of the Ministerial Council, Ministers agreed to the terms of reference and the process for the review.

The review will commence in September 2005 with a report due back to COAG by December 2006.Top of page

Regulation of Residues of Agriculture and Veterinary Chemicals

The current arrangement in the Food Standards Code for regulating chemical residues in food products is a “zero tolerance” approach for those chemicals that are not covered in the Code. Even if these residues do not pose a threat to public health and safety, there can be substantial imposts on industry and enforcement agencies that are not commensurate with the risks posed.

At its meeting on 10 June 2005 FRSC agreed to establish a working group to identify options to resolve these issues. The working group will report back to FRSC in December 2005.

Coming up

Treaty Review

The Australia New Zealand Joint Food Standards Treaty commits the two countries to seek Trans-Tasman harmonisation of food standards.

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.


FSANZ Board Appointments Four new members and three reappointments to the Board of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) were announced by the Parliamentary Secretary The Hon Christopher Pyne on 12 May 2005. The new members are:
Dr Michele Allan
Dr Katrine Baghurst
Mr Peter Boyden and
Dr Peter Williams.

Reappointed members are:
Mrs Elaine Attwood
Dr John Craven and
Mr Peter Milne.

This new Board represents an excellent mix of experience and expertise. The range and depth of nominations this year was excellent. The Board consists of experts from fields such as public health, food science and technology, human nutrition and consumer issues.

The appointments were made with the agreement of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (ANZFRMC).

FSANZ is the food regulatory authority in Australia and New Zealand. The FSANZ Board is chaired by Mr Rob Knowles. A full list of members and details of their backgrounds can be found at the FSANZ websiteTop of page


Foodborne illness in Australia: Annual incidence circa 2000

Using funding provided by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, OzFoodNet and the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) at the Australian National University conducted the National Gastroenteritis Survey in 2001 and 2002. The survey estimates the incidence of gastroenteritis in Australia. This was subsequently combined with data from other sources to estimate the total incidence of foodborne illness in Australia.
This report provides the most comprehensive and accurate data currently available on the incidence and causes of foodborne illness in Australia. It demonstrates that these illnesses are a significant public health problem, with 5.4 million cases of foodborne illness estimated to occur each year. The annual effects of these illnesses include an estimated:
  • 1.2 million people visiting the doctor and 300,000 prescriptions for antibiotics;
  • 2.1 million days of work lost;15,000 hospital admissions; and
  • 120 deaths.
To obtain a copy of this report, you may email your request (which includes your postal address) to Food Safety or download the report at OzFoodNet.

Completed policy development and projects

The following policy guidelines have been completed and are on the Food Regulation Secretariat website.