Fsanz seeks submissions on GM corn and irradiated food labelling

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock
The antipodean food regulator has called for opinions on a genetically modified corn line and released a consultation paper on the existing labelling requirements for irradiated foods.

Steve McCutcheon, chief executive of Fsanz, said the GM corn had been made tolerant to glufosinate ammonium and could resist pests such as the western corn rootworm.

Fsanz conducted a thorough safety assessment on the application, which included comparing the GM corn with a non-GM corn from a molecular, toxicological and nutritional point of view​,” McCutcheon said.  

The aim of the assessment was to find out if there are any differences between the GM food and its conventional counterpart. No public health or safety issues were identified and the corn was found to be as safe as its conventional counterpart​.”

Concerning the paper on irradiated foods, McCutcheon explained that food ministers had asked the regulator to review the requirements in response to a labelling review recommendation.

It’s important to note that no change to requirements is being proposed at this stage​,” he said, adding that he expects to provide ministers with a report in the second-half of 2016.

Fsanz is seeking submissions on a range of technical and economic issues related to the mandatory requirements and how information about food irradiation is communicated to consumers​.”

Government agencies, public health professionals, the food industry and the community are asked to provide submissions on GM corn and irradiated food labelling. 

All Fsanz decisions on standards are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation, who can then decide to adopt, amend, or reject standards or they can ask for a review.

The closing date for submissions on both issues is March 29.

Meanwhile, Fsanz has announced the results of a survey on food packaging chemicals, which McCutcheon said were reassuring for consumers. 

There were no detections at all for half of the 30 chemicals tested​,” the chief executive said of the second phase of the Australian Total Diet Study, which looked at chemicals that might migrate from packaging into food.

We detected very low residues of some chemicals in a small number of samples. After undertaking a very conservative safety assessment on these very low levels, Fsanz has concluded there are no safety concerns​.”

However, the screening study identified that further work was required for two of the phthalates chemicals it tested for, and the regulator will now sample a wider range of foods for these as part of a full dietary exposure assessment.

The results will inform an ongoing review of current food packaging regulations​,” McCutcheon added.

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