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Chapter 1 - Food Standards and Practices

Food standards and practices

Strategic imperative

To build and sustain food standards and practices to support high standards of public health protection and a dynamic and sustainable food manufacturing sector.

Highlights 2013–14

  • Gazetted (published) nine applications and two proposals to amend the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including approvals for five genetically modified foods.
  • Approved arrangements for the processing of meat and meat products from the major and minor species and wild game (gazettal in July 2014) and abandoned a proposal to develop a primary production and processing standard for horticulture.
  • Completed the program of developing primary production and processing standards for the primary industries in Australia, commenced in 2002.
  • Commenced an examination of the need to add lupin and lupin products to the list of substances subject to mandatory allergen declaration in the Code and examined options to exempt various ingredients from mandatory labelling.
  • Approved changes to the microbiological limits provisions in the Code for listeria and notified food ministers.
  • Completed BSE safety assessments for Lithuania, Chile, Brazil and Latvia and assigned each country a category 1 status; conducted in-country verification visits to the United States, Mexico and Argentina.
  • Consulted widely on proposed reforms to the Code to modernise its presentation and to create an instrument that better meets the needs of stakeholders in industry, commerce and enforcement.
  • Assisted other parts of the food regulatory system to ensure an effective implementation of food standards, especially in implementing the recommendations of Labelling Logic and the application of Code provisions to imported food.

Introduction

FSANZ's main contribution to the food regulatory system is developing and maintaining the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Food standards in the Code contain measures that must be implemented by the producers, manufacturers, retailers and importers of food to ensure the safety of the food supply and the adequacy of consumer information. In developing food standards, our objective is to protect public health and safety through measures that impose the minimum necessary regulatory burden.

One example of this is recent amendments to the Code to allow the sale of certain hard, cooked raw-milk (unpasteurised) cheeses, where scientific evidence showed that pathogens could be successfully minimised to safe levels. On the other hand, the evidence showed that pathogens in raw drinking milk still cannot be reduced to safe levels, resulting in the current prohibition on its sale being maintained.

Decisions like these are made by FSANZ, as required by the FSANZ Act, although the Forum on Food Regulation made up of ministers responsible for food regulation, can, and does, exercise its right to request reviews of decisions.

The consultation processes that precede a decision by FSANZ are inclusive, open and transparent. Over the years, we have built comprehensive stakeholder engagement into our standards development work.

FSANZ is only one part of the food regulatory system. For this reason we liaise closely with the agencies responsible for enforcing the Code—Australian state and territory agencies, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture (for imported food). We also collaborate with other Commonwealth partners on food matters, notably the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority on maximum residue limits and the Therapeutic Goods Administration on the food-medicine interface. We also have a joint science program with MPI.

Major or complex changes to the Code require the involvement of the Office of Best Practice Regulation to ensure that the changes are necessary and that they confer a net benefit to the community. In matters of misleading and deceptive promotion of food, we tend to rely on the provisions of Australian Consumer Law, as administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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Summary of food regulatory activity

Applications and proposals gazetted in 2013–14

We gazetted nine variations to food standards (12 in 2012–13) and two variations from proposals (seven in 2012–13).

Detailed information on applications and proposals processed in 2013–14 is contained in Appendixes 1 and 2. Information on FSANZ's process for assessing applications and proposals can be found in Appendix 3.

Amendments to the FSANZ Application Handbook

Under s. 23 of the FSANZ Act, FSANZ can make guidelines setting out mandatory information and format requirements that applications must include. If these requirements are not met, then FSANZ has the power under s. 26 of the FSANZ Act to reject an application after it has initially been lodged with FSANZ. These guidelines are a legislative instrument for the purposes of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, but are not subject to sunsetting or disallowance.

Amendment No. 6 to the Handbook took effect on 1 September 2013.

Standards Development Work Plan

Under s. 20 of the FSANZ Act, FSANZ is required to develop and publish a three-year forward plan for applications and proposals on which it intends to develop standards or variations to standards, no later than 30 June each year. When it develops the plan, FSANZ must consult interested people and review and update the plan at least every three months.

We issued a call for submissions on the work plan for 2014–15 in May 2014, which elicited a single submission that had no substantive comments for consideration by FSANZ. The current work plan can be found on our website.2

While the number of applications received and proposals prepared by FSANZ in 2013–14 was similar to last year, our workload also continues to be characterised by increased demands and complexities. Table 1 shows the number of applications, proposals and potential proposals on the work plan (received or prepared before 1 October 2007, when new assessment procedures took effect) at 30 June 2014, in all work plan groups. Table 2 shows the number of applications and proposals received or prepared from 1 October 2007, at 30 June 2014.

Table 1: Applications and proposals on the work plan (received or prepared before 1 October 2007)

As at

30 June 2011

30 June 2012

30 June 2013

30 June 2014

Group 1

6

5

5

4

Group 2

5

4

4

4

Under review

1

1

0

0

TOTAL

12

10

9

8

With the Forum or awaiting Notification to the Forum

0

0

0

0

Estimated waiting time Group 2

4 applications remain with assessment work to commence —3 are to be considered as part of a proposal on raw milk products.

3 applications remain with assessment work to commence —2 are to be considered as part of a proposal on raw milk products.

3 applications remain with assessment work to commence—2 are awaiting the outcome of a proposal on raw milk products (P1022) and the third the outcome of the review of nutritive substances and novel foods (P1024).

3 applications remain with assessment work to commence —2 are awaiting the outcome of a proposal on raw milk products (P1022) and the third the outcome of the review of nutritive substances and novel foods (P1024).

Group 1 is for applications or proposals raising health and safety issues being progressed as a priority or identified by jurisdictions as warranting priority.

Group 2 is for unpaid applications or proposals placed on a three-year rolling work plan scheduled for commencement in order of receipt.

Table 2: Applications and proposals on the work plan (received or prepared from 1 October 2007 onwards)*

As at

30 June 2011

30 June 2012

30 June 2013

30 June 2014

General procedure

14

(7 paid)

14

(4 paid)

11

(3 paid)

14

(2 paid)

Minor procedure

0

1

0

0

Major procedure

9
(5 paid)

6
(1 paid)

7

4

High level
health claims

N/A

N/A

0

0

Urgent applications or proposals

0

0

0

0

Under review

0

1

1

1

TOTAL

23

22

19

19

With the Forum or awaiting notification to the Forum

3

3

2

2

Estimated waiting time for unpaid applications

6 months

2 months approx

2 months approx

6 months approx

*Table 2 does not include potential applications and proposals for which an administrative assessment has been commenced, but not yet completed, as these have not yet been placed on the work plan or where an application has been accepted and proposal prepared, but was not on the work plan as at 30 June.

Tables 3 and 4 summarise our performance in developing food standards. Of note is the decline in applications from the food industry to amend the Code in the past couple of years.

Table 3: Total applications received and accepted onto the work plan and proposals prepared

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Applications

91

111

6

42

Proposals

2

9

7

63

TOTAL

11

20

13

10

1 Includes any applications received in this year and accepted onto the work plan in the following year.

2 Includes one cost-recovered application which was rejected because the applicant chose not to pay the fees owing for an exclusive capturable commercial benefit by the due date.

3 Includes one proposal which was prepared and then abandoned within this financial year.

Table 4: Applications and proposals finalised

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Final assessments made by the FSANZ Board

1

1

0

0

Approvals made by the FSANZ Board

16

19

18

11

Applications withdrawn or rejected* Proposals abandoned

6

3

2

5

TOTAL completed

23

23

20

16

Applications or proposals gazetted

16

22

19

11

*Includes potential applications rejected at administrative assessment

Further information on the above can be obtained from Appendix 2. There also may be some discrepancies between Tables 4 and 7 where decisions have been made in one financial year and the notification of that decision is made in the next financial year.

Table 5 provides information about any significant variation from the timetable established in the work plan for considering applications and proposals during 2013–2014, while Table 6 summarises the status of ‘legacy projects' commenced before 1 October 2007.

Table 5: Reasons for significant delays in considering applications and proposals in 2013–14

Application / Proposal Step Variation1 Reason

P1014—Primary Production & Processing Standard for Meat & Meat Products

Approval

13 months

Concerns with the potential regulatory gap for animal welfare issues which need to be addressed. P1005 was merged with this Proposal (originally dealing with minor meat species) to create one proposal addressing all meat and meat products.

P1016—Hydrocyanic Acid in Apricot Kernels & Other Foods

Assessment, preparation of draft food regulatory measure and call for submissions

23 months

Delayed due to the complexity of assessment issues. These issues included FSANZ consideration of including other foods as this was considered to be more efficient, timely and beneficial to FSANZ, jurisdictions and consumers. FSANZ was also seeking an agreement from the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries to conduct further surveys on cyanogenic glycosides in apricot kernels and other foods and to address an issue with detections in apple juice.

P1017—Criteria for Listeria monocytogenes—Microbiological Limits for Foods

Preparation of draft food regulatory measure and call for submissions

Approval

11 months



9.5 months

Delayed due to negotiations with the OBPR over need for a regulation impact statement. FSANZ also developed additional guidance and material and additional supporting tools to include with the 2nd call for submissions following targeted consultation with industry and jurisdictions.

P1024—Revision of the Regulation of Nutritive Substances & Novel Food

Assessment

15 months

The complexity of issues has resulted in the need for additional preparatory work and delaying the release of the 1st call for submissions.

P1025—Code Revision

Preparation of draft food regulatory measure and call for submissions

12 months

Delay due to the extension of the closing date of the 1st call for submissions and complexity of issues raised.

P1026—Lupin as an Allergen

Preparation of draft food regulatory measure and call for submissions

12 months

Completion of assessment delayed due to other work priorities and collection of cost benefit data.

P1027—Managing Low-level Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals without Maximum Residue Limits

Preparation of draft food regulatory measure and call for submissions

12 months +

Completion of assessment delayed due to other work priorities. Timeframes unknown as at 30 June 2014.

P1028—Infant Formula Products

1st call for submissions (consultation paper)

6 months +

Delayed due to complexity of issues. Timeframes unknown as at 30 June 2014.

P274—Labelling Minimum Age for Infant Foods

Final Assessment

10 years +

Delay due to further consideration of approach. Timeframes to be determined.

P290—Food Safety Programs for Catering Operations to the General Public

Final Assessment

9 years 2 months +

Delayed pending further implementation strategy work required by jurisdictions.

P298—Benzoate & Sulphite Permissions in Food

Draft Assessment

7 years 11 months + (from date final assessment due)

Delayed due to the need to collect further data and evaluation of the data.

1 Variation based on indicative timeframes in the administrative assessment report against timeframe indicated in FSANZ Work Plan as at 30 June.

Table 6: Status of remaining applications and proposals received or prepared before 1 October 2007

Application / Proposal Step Reason

A530—Permission for English Farmhouse Cheddar made from Raw Milk

12/2/2004

Assessment indefinitely delayed—issues to be considered as part of proposal on raw milk products (P1022).

A531—Use of Raw Milk in Cheese Production

16/2/2004

Assessment indefinitely delayed—issues to be considered as part of proposal on raw milk products (P1022).

A576—Labelling of Alcoholic Beverages with a Pregnancy Health Advisory Label

17/2/2006

FSANZ has delayed further assessment following the decision by the Forum to accept the recommendation of the Review of Labelling Law and Policy which allows two years for industry to adopt voluntary initiatives.

A613—Definitions for Nutritive Substance and Nutritive Ingredient

21/8/2007

Assessment indefinitely delayed—pending advice from the Applicant and consideration of P1024.

P235—Review of Food-type Dietary Supplements

10/5/2001

On hold pending completion of related work.

P274—Labelling Minimum Age for Infant Foods

1/3/2003

See Table 5.

P290—Food Safety Programs for Catering Operations to the General Public

10/2/2004

On hold pending further implementation strategy work required by jurisdictions.

P298—Benzoate & Sulphite Permissions in Food

6/6/2005

See Table 5.

Forum reviews

A request for the review of a FSANZ decision to amend the Code must be sought by a majority of members of the Forum on Food Regulation, i.e. six out of 10. More details on the review process are available in Appendix 3.

Table 7: Notification outcomes

2010–11*

2011–12*

2012–13*

2013–14

Approval decisions notified

15

22

17

12

Final assessment decisions notified

1

1

0

0

Requests for review

0 (0%)

1 (4%)

1 (6%)

0 (0%)

Review decisions notified

N/A

0

2

0

*The figures in this column may differ from those provided in the previous year's annual report as review requests may be received by FSANZ after the deadline for publication.

Ministerial Policy Guidelines

The Forum on Food Regulation is responsible for developing food regulatory policy for domestic and imported foods and policy guidelines for setting food standards for domestic and imported foods. In developing or reviewing food regulatory measures and variations to food regulatory measures, under s. 18 of the FSANZ Act, FSANZ must have regard to any written policy guidelines formulated by Ministers and notified to FSANZ.

No guidelines were notified to FSANZ in 2013–14.

Additional work requested by the Forum

During the year, the Forum asked FSANZ to provide advice on the steps that would be involved in introducing mandatory pregnancy health labelling on alcohol products, and to investigate and respond to a number of issues relating to the use of low THC hemp in food.

The Forum has considered FSANZ's responses and will be providing FSANZ with further direction on the completion of the review of FSANZ's decision on the use of low THC hemp in food (not received as at 30 June 2014).

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Standards development

Approval of new substances in certain foods

Food additives and processing aids

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

Number of gazettals: 3

During the year, we gazetted permissions for quillaja extract as a food additive and fungal chitosan as a processing aid, as well as clarification of prohibitions on the use of carbon monoxide in fish as a food additive.

Genetically modified (GM) foods

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

Gazetted the inclusion of food from 2 GM soy varieties, 1 GM cotton variety, 1 GM canola variety and 1 GM lucerne variety into the Food Standards Code

Food derived from eight different crops (canola, corn, cotton, lucerne, potato, rice, soybean and sugarbeet) has been listed in the Schedule to Standard 1.5.2 since late 2008. While the range of crops has not changed since then, the number of individual lines from which GM food is approved has increased from 55 (in December 2008) to 81 (in June 2014).

Nutritive substances and novel food

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

Preparations made for a 1st call for submissions late in 2014.

In 2012, FSANZ commenced a review of nutritive substances and novel foods. This large project addresses the current regulatory approach to whole foods and ingredients which are new to the food supply in Australia and New Zealand. The project aims to develop a graduated risk-based approach to these foods, where the level of regulatory oversight, and data required, are commensurate with the risk presented by different types of foods. The provision for exclusive use of approved foods is also being reviewed.

Low THC hemp as a food

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

Review by FSANZ extended by the Forum into 2014–15.

FSANZ continued to review its approval of low THC hemp as a food, as requested by ministers. In addition to the original review request of December 2012, ministers asked FSANZ to investigate issues relating to the trade and consumption of hemp seeds and the marketing of hemp foods (December 2013).

Before this additional request, ministers had sought and received advice on these and other matters from the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Management and the Food Regulation Standing Committee. The advice was provided to FSANZ. We liaised with relevant stakeholders before providing further advice on the additional issues to ministers for consideration in June 2014. We will finalise our review after receiving any further direction from ministers.

Labelling standards

Labelling exemptions (allergens)

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

1st call for submissions reports prepared for release in 3rd or 4th quarter 2014.

We are considering options to exempt various ingredients from mandatory labelling declarations. In 2013–14, we examined the presence of proteins in certain products derived from allergenic sources and have concluded that some of these products are safe for people who are allergic to the original foods. Removing allergen declarations from these products could result in a wider food choice for the relevant consumers, without increasing the risk of exposure to food allergens.

The products under consideration for allergen labelling exemptions are refined, bleached and deodorised soy oil; tocopherols and phytosterols derived from soy; glucose syrup derived from wheat starch; and distilled alcohol from dairy or wheat components.

Food for infants (minimum age labelling)

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

Consultation paper released in October 2013.

Currently, the labelling requirements in the Code permit infant foods to be labelled as suitable from the age of 4 months. The infant feeding guidelines of Australia and New Zealand each recommend the introduction of solid food at ‘around 6 months'.

During the year, we held a round of public consultation on our review of minimum age labelling of infant foods, seeking stakeholder feedback on our current assessment. This resulted in divergent stakeholder views. We are continuing to consider the best approach to minimum age labelling, including the role of labelling, the current evidence base, the need for evidence and the community impact of any change to the regulation.

Food standards for the primary industries

FSANZ has completed its work program to develop domestic food standards covering the entire food supply chain, having regard to the Overarching Policy Guideline on Primary Production and Processing Standards.

Meat and meat products

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

No review request raised by the Forum in June 2014; amendments to the Code gazetted in July 2014.

The primary production and processing standard for meat and meat products covers major and minor meat species, as well as wild game. It places obligations on primary producers for traceability and managing inputs and waste. These obligations do not apply to wild game animals.

We have recommended that processing requirements for crocodile meat in the Code should be removed, acknowledging that these requirements are already established through an Australian Standard. We have also recommended that the processing of meat and meat products from the major and minor species and wild game should continue to follow the requirements of the relevant Australian Standards. The Forum has been informed of the FSANZ Board's approval of these recommendations.

Raw milk products

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

1st call for submissions in November 2013; final round of consultation in July 2014.

FSANZ has been assessing a further category of raw milk products for which the properties and/or processing factors may allow survival of pathogens that may have been present in the raw milk but do not support the growth of these pathogens.

Horticultural products

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

FSANZ abandoned this proposal in February 2014.

FSANZ abandoned this proposal, noting that a deeper understanding of horticultural businesses that are operating without an industry quality assurance/food safety system was essential before further regulation in this sector is considered. We are continuing with this work through targeted stakeholder consultation.

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Public health and safety

Infant formula products

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

Proposal P1028 commenced in November 2013.

In 2013–14, we prepared a proposal to revise and clarify relevant standards in the Code that regulate infant formula, follow-on formula and special infant formulas. However, due to budgetary constraints and the need to provide for more flexible resourcing arrangements, we narrowed the scope of this proposal to focus on one product category only—infant formula.

We have deferred reviews of the other two product categories (special infant formulas and follow-on formula) until the infant formula proposal is completed, resources are available and the international regulatory context for follow-on formula is clarified. Several opportunities remain for stakeholders to provide comment throughout the reduced life of this major proposal.

Lupin as an allergen

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

1st call for submissions expected in late 2014.

There is clinical evidence that lupin is an emerging allergen in Australia. Lupin is increasingly used as a food ingredient in Australian-produced foods, including unpackaged bakery products, as well as imported products. FSANZ is considering adding lupin and lupin products to the list of substances subject to mandatory declaration in the Code.

To date, allergic reactions to lupin are unreported in New Zealand. This is likely due to limited exposure to foods containing lupin. As more products containing lupin become available (from Australia or Europe), and awareness of its potential allergenicity increases, this situation is likely to change.

Food safety

Cyanogenic glycosides in food

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

Delayed while the regulatory impact is assessed.

Some plant-based foods contain cyanogenic glycosides which can pose potential risks to consumers. The toxicity of cyanogenic glycosides depends on the release of hydrocyanic acid (HCN) from plant tissue or the action of gut bacteria in animals or humans. Consumption of foods containing cyanogenic glycosides may result in acute cyanide poisoning and is associated with several chronic diseases.

A survey conducted by FSANZ and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries found that consumption of raw apricot kernels (edible nut-like objects found in the stone of fresh apricots) can pose an acute public health and safety risk for all Australian and New Zealand population groups. FSANZ's interim advice is that adults should not eat more than three raw apricot kernels per day. Children should not eat any.

We are currently considering how best to manage the risk of cyanogenic glycosides in raw apricot kernels. This will involve preparing a consultation document—a regulatory impact statement—that will examine and compare the costs and benefits of various options for managing future potential public health or safety risks in Australia and New Zealand.

Tutin

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

1st call for submissions in July 2013.

FSANZ and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries have been working collaboratively to improve the scientific basis of a permanent maximum level (ML) in the Code for tutin in honey. Tutin is a potent neurotoxin that sometimes appears in honey at levels high enough to cause serious health effects in humans—for example, convulsions. Since 2008, this risk has been controlled by a temporary maximum level in the Code, while further work has been carried out.

Research has been completed to characterise the toxin in honey and its distribution and metabolism in humans. We have used this information to support an internationally acceptable risk assessment for this toxin and are proposing a subsequent regulatory measure in the Code.

The provision of MLs currently in the Code for tutin in honey and comb honey appear to be providing a measure of protection for human health and safety. However, new evidence indicates the actual level needs to be reduced. We expect to complete a proposal for the introduction of a permanent ML for tutin in honey before the expiry of the interim MLs in March 2015.

Listeria

Regulatory milestone 2013–14

FSANZ Board approved variation to the Code in May 2014; Forum on Food Regulation notified.

In the first stage of the review of Standard 1.6.1—Microbiological Limits for Foods, FSANZ consulted on applying limits for L. monocytogenes based on whether the food was ready-to-eat (RTE) and can or will not support growth of the pathogen. Submitters to the 2nd call for submissions, in November 2013, generally supported this approach and the FSANZ Board approved variations to Standard 1.6.1 to reflect these changes.

The Forum has been informed about the FSANZ Board's approval of these recommendations. The Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation has committed to future work to help develop national guidance and risk communication materials for listeria management.

We will be consulting in late 2014 on the approach and proposed timing for the broader review of microbiological limits in Standard 1.6.1.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)

FSANZ assesses the BSE risk of countries that seek to export beef and beef products to Australia. Countries that are assigned a Category 1 or Category 2 status by FSANZ are eligible to export beef or beef products to Australia and their beef products are considered to pose a negligible food safety risk. Certification requirements for each category are different and are implemented by the Australian Department of Agriculture, as stipulated by Australia's BSE policy.

To date, we have received applications for country BSE food safety assessments from sixteen countries. In 2013–14, we completed assessments for four countries: Lithuania, Chile and Brazil were assigned a Category 1 status. Latvia was assigned a Category 2 status which was subsequently upgraded to Category 1. We also reviewed annual BSE updates received from New Zealand, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia and Vanuatu, and reconfirmed the status previously assigned to these countries (except for the Latvia upgrade).

In 2013–2014, FSANZ completed in-country verification visits in the United States, Mexico, and Argentina. For each country, we assessed the effectiveness of BSE control and preventative systems across the beef production chain.

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Improving our standards development outcomes

Reform of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code

Regulatory milestone 2013–14 Public consultation held May–September 2013.


First published in December 2000, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code has since been amended approximately 80 times. In 2009, the Supreme Court of New South Wales delivered a judgment in a criminal prosecution under the Food Act (NSW), during which the court commented on the legal efficacy of the Code.

In response to the court's comments and subsequent consultation with New Zealand, state and territory enforcement agencies and relevant departments of state, FSANZ has commenced a revision of the Code. The revision seeks to modernise how the Code is presented, to create an instrument that better meets the needs of a very broad range of stakeholders in industry, commerce and enforcement and to provide a sounder base for future variations.

We aim to place a greater reliance on definitions already present in the Food Acts of New Zealand, the states and the territories, and by presenting the Code as a unified instrument.

The major effect of the proposed changes is to clarify and give priority to the primary role of the food laws of the states, territories and New Zealand (the application Acts) and to strengthen the relationship between the Code and the application Acts. Some change has been necessary to ensure that the Code does not inappropriately impinge on the criminal law function of the application Acts. The revised Code provides explicit requirements that can be enforced by enforcement agencies.

Maximum residue limits (MRLs)

FSANZ continued to consider requests to harmonise MRLs with international MRLs established by Codex or with MRLs established in another country. To date, we have accepted requests from different stakeholders throughout the year and have prepared more than one proposal a year.

However, to streamline this process, we are trialling the preparation of one proposal per year, which considers requests received within a specific timeframe. A template has been designed to help inform people making these requests about the information required. This proposed change has been communicated widely to stakeholders.

Support for implementing standards

Nutrition, health and related claims

FSANZ has continued to support the implementation of Standard 1.2.7—Nutrition, Health and Related Claims. Food businesses have until January 2016 to meet the requirements of the new standard. In September 2013, following stakeholder consultation, we completed a guidance document to help industry with the self-substantiation of food-health relationships for general level health claims.

This standard requires a person to notify FSANZ of a relationship between foods or property of food and a health effect (food-health relationship) which has been established by a process of systematic review, before making a general level health claim based on that food-health relationship. We have established a process for food businesses to use when making this notification. A listing of all food-health relationships notified to FSANZ is available on the FSANZ website.

We are continuing to work with the nutrition and health claims working group of the Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation to support the subcommittee's development of a compliance guideline and guidance materials for Standard 1.2.7 for industry.

FSANZ released a consultation paper in July 2013 seeking information and stakeholder views about the qualifying criteria for nutrition content claims about dietary fibre. This was in response to concern from some manufacturers that these criteria were set above the criteria in the voluntary 1995 Code of Practice on Nutrient Claims in Food Labels and in Advertisements. After considering information provided in submissions, we decided to maintain the qualifying criteria for nutrition content claims about dietary fibre in the standard.

Imported food

Imported food must meet Australian requirements for public health and safety and comply with the Code. The Department of Agriculture Imported Food Inspection Program has responsibility for inspecting and sampling food as it reaches the Australian border, based on risk assessment advice provided by FSANZ on the specific commodity.

A FSANZ and Department of Agriculture interagency review of the imported food procedures and provision of advice under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme was finalised in 2012 and a joint agency implementation plan was developed. As part of this plan, we are currently reviewing advice on ‘risk category' foods (as listed in the Imported Food Control Order 2001) to determine those foods that pose a medium to high risk to public health.3

We intend to develop risk statements for each commodity/hazard pair and publish this information on the FSANZ website. The review will be rolled out over a period of 12–18 months, with the first 15 (of 58) risk statements due for completion in July 2014.

Code Interpretation Service

The Code Interpretation Service (CIS) provides interpretive guidance on food standards in chapters 1 and 2 of the Code, and is available to all food industry stakeholders on a fee-for-service basis. The CIS did not receive any applications for interpretive guidance in 2013–14.

2 www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/changes/workplan

3 Foods that pose a medium-to-high risk to public health are inspected by Agriculture as risk foods under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme​​

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