Who is responsible for our system?In Australia and New Zealand, laws on food are covered by a range of laws and policies. Generally, consumer protection laws require information about food to be truthful and not misleading. Food laws cover a more specific range of food issues including labelling, composition and food handling requirements.
There are many different government organisations responsible for particular areas of our food regulation system, which is in three main parts:
The bodies responsible for developing food policy are outlined below.
Forum Ministers have two distinct roles. Firstly, there are the requirements that government itself imposes on the joint food regulation system. Secondly, it has the role of arbitrator and is required to balance the national interest with the potentially competing views from consumers, from industry and from itself. Wherever possible, the Forum makes decisions by consensus. However the Forum can resolve matters by voting. Each of the ten government parties has one vote, and six votes are required for a decision.
The Food Regulation Standing Committee; known as FRSC, supports the Forum by coordinating policy advice. FRSC's job is to study and assess any potential food issues and work out the appropriate policy response. FRSC takes into account the nature and extent of the issue or risk posed, and considers this when proposing the most effective and proportionate response. Different options for response may include non-intervention, self-regulation, co-regulation or regulation. By working this way, FRSC encourages a responsive approach to identified issues that require coordination across our joint system.
More information about FRSC is available here. Visit the Policy Development page for more detailed information.
The bodies responsible for developing, amending and setting food standards are outlined below.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand; known as FSANZ, was established under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 and is an independent statutory authority. It has a twelve member Board and offices in Canberra, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand.
FSANZ is also responsible for some labelling requirements on packaged and unpackaged food, e.g. specific mandatory warnings or advisory labels, and also develops Australia-only food standards to address food safety issues, including requirements for primary production.
More information about FSANZ is available on their website FSANZ. Visit the 'the Making of Food Standards' for more information on how food standards are developed .
Implementation and enforcement
The Australian State and Territory and New Zealand government agencies are responsible for implementing, monitoring and enforcing food regulation through their own various Food Acts and other food related legislation. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources enforces the Food Standards Code at the border in relation to imported food.
The responsible agencies vary in each jurisdiction, but generally include policy areas within the relevant Departments of Health, and also within Departments of Industry, Agriculture and/or Primary Industries and/or Food Authorities. Across both countries, the bodies include:
- New Zealand government departments (imported, exported and domestically produced food);
- State and Territory government departments and authorities; and
- Local government – over 560 local councils are involved in monitoring and enforcement throughout Australia. In New Zealand there are 73.
More information about ISFR is available here ISFR.
A work program that list work underway within the system is developed and reviewed regularly.