Australia prepares rapid food safety amendments

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fsanz, Law

Manufacturers campaigning to amend the Australian Food
Standards Code will have their complaints processed in a much
shorter time, under new regulatory amendments coming
into force next week.

The changes to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 will come into force 1 October, and will include restrictions on how long the Food Standards Agency New Zealand (FSANZ) can take to process proposed amendments. The statutory changes, designed to help make food safety laws more "democratic"​, will to be welcomed by food companies, who often complain that as industry power houses they should be more involved in decision making. "New and stricter timeframes for dealing with applications is an integral part of the latest reform measures,"​ the FSANZ. According the food regulator, anyone suggesting an amendment to the code must first undergo an "administrative assessment"​, which is necessary to determine whether the applicant meets necessary application requirements. Under the law, once FSANZ has verified that it has all the information necessary, it must then process minor applications within three months, general applications in nine months, and major applications in 12 months. Other amendments to the law include a new application handbook, designed to ensure that applicants include all the relevant information when making any complaints or suggestions. "Applications we receive often do not contain sufficient information to enable then to be properly assessed," ​FSANZ said. "This has often led to delays in assessments while we await further information."​ This new handbook will also be available in a new online format from 1 October, and will include information on "assessment processes, cost-recovery, confidentiality and application templates",​ FSANZ stated. The amendments to the 1991 act are part of a new food regulatory system in response to changes suggested by the 1998 Food Regulation Review, also known as the Blair Report. "The reforms have resulted in a nationally focused food regulatory system forAustraliathat aims to enhance public health and safety," ​ FSANZ said. The review focused on establishing a streamlined legislative framework for food standards, as well as "establishing a national system incorporating key stakeholders to achieve agreed food safety outcomes through consistent approaches".

Related topics: Policy, Oceania

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