Current activities

Below are the current activities of the food regulation system, divided into areas of Policies and Projects, Consistent implementation, and Reviews and evaluations.

Page last updated: 18 April 2017

Policies and Projects

The table lists the activities that are currently being progressed through the Food Regulation System.
NameObjectiveLead Authorisation Status
Energy labelling of alcoholic beverages Development of a policy on energy labelling of alcoholic beverages. Work is being led by Mr Jim Dodds, WA Department of Health on behalf of the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC). The initiation of this policy issue was by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) and links back to Recommendation 26 of the 2011 report Labelling Logic: Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy “that energy content be displayed on the labels of all alcoholic beverages, consistent with the requirement for other food products.” The Forum gave its ‘in principle’ support to this recommendation and requested further work. The policy is being developed within the following framework:
Policy Process stage 'D - Define success'
In Aug 2016 Ministers noted that the requirements to pass through the first Gateway have been met and agreed that FRSC progress to the next phase. The next phase of the policy development process includes further targeted stakeholder consultation.
Food safety risk management of horticulture produce. To explore options and provide policy advice on effective interventions to prevent and respond to foodborne illness involving horticultural produce. FRSC members from Queensland, South Australia and Victoria are working together. FRSC The policy is being developed within the following framework
Policy Process stage 'D - Project proposal'
In February 2017 FRSC agreed that there is sufficient evidence to progress through Gateway 1 of the Food Regulation Policy Framework. The next phase of the policy development process includes stakeholder consultation.
Cost recovery models for the evaluation of dossiers for self-substantiation for general-level health claims Advice to the Forum on cost recovery for Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) evaluation of dossiers for self-substantiation for general level health claims. A FRSC working group chaired by Ms Elizabeth Flynn, the Australian Government Department of Health FRSC member, has been established. Forum A trial assessment of self-substantiated food-health relationship dossiers has been undertaken to gather intelligence. This trail has been completed and the report referred to the FRSC working group for consideration.
Low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) hemp as a food Report covering information gaps in relation to low THC hemp as food. This work is being progressed by a FRSC working group chaired by TasmaniaIn January 2015, the Forum formally rejected a draft variation to Standard 1.4.4 – Prohibited and Restricted Plant and Fungi of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code), resulting from Application A1039 – Low THC Hemp as a Food which sought to permit low THC hemp as a food. Ministers requested that information gaps in respect to concerns be addressed as a matter of priority by the FRSC. The project is looking to address the following information gaps:
  • law enforcement issues, particularly from a policing perspective in relation to roadside drug testing;
  • potential conflicts with state and territory Application Acts;
  • the possibility of a need for a maximum cannabidiol (CBD) level; and
  • that the use of hemp in foods may send a confused message to consumers about the acceptability and safety of Cannabis.
The final report is due to be considered by the Forum on 28 April 2017.
Investigate labelling approaches for providing information on sugars Prepare a program of work to further investigate labelling approaches for providing information on sugars. Mr Mark Booth, FSANZ, in consultation with FRSC is leading this work. Forum 25 November 2016. The policy is being developed within the following framework.
Policy Process stage 'B - 

Problem analysis'
Draft work program to be presented at the April 2017 Forum meeting.
Clarify the policy issue in relation to naming sources of fats and oils Undertake work to clarify the policy issue in relation to naming sources of fats and oils and the next steps to provide adequate information to enable consumers to make informed choices in support of dietary guidelines. Mr Russel Bates, New Zealand, is leading this on behalf of FRSC. Forum 25 November 2016. The policy is being developed within the following framework.
Policy Process stage 'B - 

Problem analysis'
An update on this work is to be provided to the April 2017 Forum meeting.
Synthetic foods as an emerging area of interest Prepare a report on the potential safety, nutritional and labelling issues that might need to be considered to maintain Australia’s and New Zealand’s reputation as producers of safe, high quality food. Mr Mark Booth, FSANZ, is leading this work. Forum 25 November 2016. The policy is being developed within the following framework.
Policy Process stage 'A - 

Project proposal'
The Report is to be presented to the Forum at the April 2017 meeting.

Consistent implementation

The table lists the activities that are currently being progressed through the Food Regulation System.
Name ObjectiveLead Authorisation Status
Food Safety Management for General Food Service and Closely Related Retail Sectors Implementation of the revised Policy Guideline for Food Safety Management: retail/food service and completion of the risk management toolkit project. The work is being undertaken by a joint FRSC/ISFR working group that is led by Dr Eva Bennet, the ISFR Chair. In 2011 the Forum endorsed the Ministerial Policy Guideline on Food Safety Management for General Food Service and Closely Related Retail Sectors (the Policy Guideline). The Policy Guideline provides a framework for the development of nationally consistent food safety management arrangements in Australia for the eight sectors within its scope. The work program includes 5 stages:
  1. Determining if current Standards 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 are sufficient to manage food safety risks in these sectors;
  2. Considering evaluation/mapping of current requirements in all jurisdictions (to assist with appropriateness determination);
  3. Creating a list of potential food safety risk management tools;
  4. Considering which food safety management tools should be applied according to risk; and
  5. Determining the best way to implement these in a nationally consistent way.
  1. Complete
  2. Complete
  3. Complete
  4. State and Territory based stakeholder consultation has commenced.
Reshaping Policy Development Pilot the new policy setting process in partnership.
Review and revise governance documents
The Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) is advancing this work. In November 2014 FRSC approved the outcome from the Review of FRSC’s strategic directions – Implementation Blueprint and committed to its implementation noting that the actions detailed may need to be fine-tuned following initial steps.
In April 2016 FRSC considered the Communications Strategy and agreed to integrate it with the stakeholder engagement strategy as part of a phased approach to implementing the Blueprint over the next twelve months with assistance and oversight from the SPWG.
The policy framework is currently being piloted with Energy labelling of alcoholic beverages
The review of the governance document is an internal administrative process that has commenced.
Strengthening Partnerships Trial a round table discussion forum to facilitate strategic discussion with key stakeholders to demonstrate the new Blueprint approach. FRSC is overseeing this trial The first and second round table were held on 15 September 2016 and 23 February 2017 respecify.
The last round tables is been planned for 21 September 2017 prior to an evaluation of the concept.
Promoting the Food System Development of collateral to support the FRSC Communications Strategy that, in turn, supports the implementation of the Blueprint. Dr Lisa Szabo, from the NSW Food Authority, is leading this work with assistance from Qld and FSANZ on behalf of FRSC. An editable PowerPoint slide deck has been successfully tested, and the communications package should be made available to FRSC members in the first week of April.
Review of enforcement guideline Update the existing document to capture the elements of best-practice guidelines developed since the finalisation of the existing document and broaden the scope of the document such that it is a compliance and enforcement guideline. A working group that is led by South Australia Health has been established to progress this work. FRSC agreed the 2016 ISFR work program that includes this new project in April 2016. The project has two components:
The review and revision of the existing Enforcement Guideline, which now includes a revised appendix 1 (enforcement toolbox).
The development of new material to describe the consistent approaches used by food regulators to facilitate compliance with the requirements of food regulation in Australia and New Zealand.
The work is to be completed within two years, i.e. by February 2018.
Guidance material for Chapters 1 and 2 of the Food Standards Code Guidance material for industry stakeholders to complement revised Chapters 1 and 2 of the Code. This work is being led by New Zealand. FRSC agreed the 2016 ISFR work program that includes this new project in April 2016. The detailed project proposal was agreed by ISFR in August 2016.
Core activities to promote consistent approaches to implementation and compliance Interpretation of, and compliance with, the Food Standards Code. Preparation of document and communication approaches to meet industry’s needs for advice. This work is being undertaken by ISFR Forum ISFR has developed communications material that is to be published as part of the new Food Regulation website.
Plan and implement coordinated surveillance and monitoring activities in relation to Standard 1.2.7 - Nutrition, health and related claims - monitoring implementation A working Group, chaired by Western Australia, is progressing this work. FRSC The survey is underway and due to be conducted in 2017.
A review of the following existing documents has commenced and is to be finalised by mid-2017:
- Getting your claims right - A guide to complying with the nutrition, health and related claims Standard; and
- Health claims and enforcement - How regulators will enforce the nutrition and health claims standard.
On-going maintenance of National Food Incident Protocol, food recall process and operational guidelines. A working Group chaired by FSANZ is leading this work. FRSC On-going.
Implementing the 2014-17 Coordinated Food Survey Plan and developing the 2016-19 plan. A working Group chaired by FSANZ is leading this work. ISFR On-going.

Reviews and evaluations

The table lists the activities that are currently being progressed through the Food Regulation System.
Name Objective LeadAuthorisation Status
Evaluation of mandatory fortification The aims of the projects are to ascertain whether the policy objectives of mandatory folic acid fortification of wheat flour for bread making, and mandatory iodine fortification of bread have been met. The policy objectives were to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects (serious birth defects) in the Australian population by increasing the folic acid intakes of women of child-bearing age, and to address the re-emergence of iodine deficiency in the general population of Australia and New Zealand. This work is being undertaken by a joint FRSC and Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) working group led by Ms Elizabeth Flynn, Australian Government Department of Health. Food Ministers agreed that a review be initiated two years after the commencement of the Standard. The project is being undertaken in three stages:
Stage one of the Review was to determine the level of food industry compliance with mandatory fortification standards and the impacts on enforcement agencies.
Stage two of the Review was to determine the impact of mandatory folic acid and iodine on nutrient intakes, nutrient status and associated health effects and has been undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Stage three of the Review builds upon the previous reports, and provides an assessment of the overall effectiveness of the mandatory folic acid and iodine fortification measures in meeting the policy objectives and their cost effectiveness.
Stage one is complete.
The report of Stage two is complete and was published in June 2016. A supplementary report to the AIHW report was developed by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries with updated data on the iodine status of the New Zealand population and was also published in June 2016.
Work on stage three is complete (pending approval by the FRSC/AHMAC Working Group). Approval of the final Stage three report is then required from the FRSC and the Forum prior to being submitted to the Community Care and Population Health Principal Committee (CCPHPC) and AHMAC for endorsement by mid-2017.
Review of policy guideline on nutrition, health and related claims A project proposal that identifies the aims and objective of the review. Ms Julia Edmonds, from the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries is leading this work. FRSC The policy is being developed within the following framework
Policy Process stage 'A - Project proposal'
A project proposal that identifies the aims and objective of the review is currently being developed. Time-frame for the review has not been agreed.
Pregnancy warnings on alcohol labels 2nd evaluation of voluntary uptake of pregnancy warnings on alcohol labels Ms Elizabeth Flynn, Australian Government Department of Health and Ms Julia Edmonds, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries are leading this work. In 2014 the Forum considered the outcomes of an independent evaluation on the uptake of voluntary Pregnancy warnings on alcohol labels. In light of the results the Forum agreed to extend the existing trial and to undertake a further review in two years. The evaluation will commence shortly. For consistency, the Terms of Reference for the evaluation will remain unchanged.

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