Current activities

Below are the current activities of the Food Regulation System. These activities are divided into the three key priorities:

  • Reducing foodborne illness, particularly related to Campylobacter and Salmonella.
  • Supporting the public health objectives to reduce chronic disease related to overweight and obesity.
  • Maintaining a strong, robust and agile Food Regulation System.

Page last updated: 12 December 2018

Food Regulation Priorities

2017-2021

Reducing foodborne illness, particularly related to Campylobacter and Salmonella

Supporting the public health objectives to reduce chronic disease related to overweight and obesity

Maintaining a strong, robust and agile food regulation system

The way we work

Clear goals and objectives

Clear roles for all committees and clear decision making points
Genuine, effective two way engagement

Full understanding of the issue (problem), risks, challenges and opportunities
Collection of evidence and information that informs understanding

A full range (whole of system) of policy options generated and evaluated
Implementation issues as a key consideration for policy
Using the best tools that achieve the desired outcome
Focus on achieving consistent outcomes

Government intervention only where there is a market failure-regulation is not the default position
Evaluate for impact and efficiency post implementation considered during development
Promoting the food system to improve stakeholders understanding and confidence

These activities are underpinned

Reducing foodborne illness, particularly related to Campylobacter and Salmonella

NameObjectiveLead Authorisation Status

Reduction of foodborne illness

To reduce foodborne illness, particularly related to Campylobacter and Salmonella, with a nationally-consistent approach.

Work is being led by Dr Lisa Szabo (NSWFA) and Ms Sophie Dwyer (Qld Health).

Ministers at their 28 April 2017 meeting agreed to the development of a draft national strategy, to reduce foodborne illness, particularly related to Campylobacter and Salmonella.

On the 24 November 2017, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum) provided in principle support for the framework that outlines the vision, approach and objective for the national strategy for reducing foodborne illness in Australia.

The development of the associated national strategy commenced in early 2018. Consultation with industry, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the Public Health Laboratory Network, Communicable Diseases Network Australia and OzFoodNet was held between 12 February and 6 April 2018.

The Forum launched Australia’s Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy 2018-2021+ at its meeting on 29 June 2018. FRSC has developed an extensive project plan, consisting of short-term and mid- to long-term projects, to give effect to the strategy.

Details on the initial projects are outlined below:

  • The Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR) is scoping a number of projects that will support the Australia’s Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy 2018-2021+.

Identify arrangements that would need to be established to facilitate data sharing.

Work is being led by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) through ISFR.

The Food Regulation Standing Committee at its meeting of 23 March 2018 agreed to three activities that support the Strategy to reduce foodborne illness in Australia.

Scoping and planning phase.

Develop a shared understanding of food safety culture with a focus on raw egg products. The working group is led by SA Health through ISFR. Scoping and planning phase.
Identify data on campylobacter in meat that could form a baseline. Working Group A: will be led by NSW Department of Primary Industries and Qld Health through ISFR.
Working Group B: Australian Meat Regulators Group (NSW Chair) through ISFR.
Scoping and planning phase.

Supporting the public health objectives to reduce chronic disease related to overweight and obesity

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 FRSC. The Forum initiated this policy issue which 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 November 2017 the Forum agreed to publish the responses to the targeted consultation that was undertaken in mid-2017.

This information is now being used to develop policy options for a wider public consultation.

Investigate labelling approaches for providing information on sugars Develop the evidence base to further investigate labelling approaches for providing information on sugars. Mr Mark Booth, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), with the assistance of Ms Elizabeth Flynn, Australian Government Department of Health, is leading this work. The Forum, at its meeting on 24 November 2017, agreed to progress the following policy issue:

Information about sugar provided on food labels does not provide adequate contextual information to enable consumers to make informed choices in support of dietary guidelines.

The Forum also noted the range of existing complementary initiatives outside of the Food Regulation System that address sugar intakes, such as the five year review of the Health Star Rating system, policy work underway on the labelling of fats and oils, and the work of the Healthy Food Partnership. The Forum intends to take a whole-of-diet, holistic approach to food labelling.

The policy is being developed within the following framework.
In November 2017 the Forum considered the results from the initial program of work and agreed to move to the next stage in the policy development framework.

In June 2018 the Forum noted the substantial work that has been progressed.

Public consultation on a range of policy options in relation to the labelling of sugars on food and drinks was undertaken for a ten-week period between 11 July and 28 September 2018.

A FRSC reference group is in the process of analysing the submissions.

Support obesity prevention objectives Identify opportunities for the Food Regulation System to support obesity prevention objectives.

The Collaboration project plan commits to:

  • assisting with the Review of fast food menu labelling schemes;
  • assisting to identify opportunities for the Food Regulation System to support obesity prevention objectives; to initiate this action a public health ‘policy think tank’ to develop a shared understanding among the public health community about what can be and what cannot be achieved in the Food Regulation System will be held in the first half of 2018. Broader stakeholder consultation with consumer and food industry groups will follow prior to progressing any outcomes;
  • a symposium to promote the Health Star Rating System; and
  • provide an ongoing forum for communication and collaboration.
A Health and Food Collaboration (the Collaboration) has been established to progress this work. The Collaboration is Chaired by the acting FRSC Chair. Forum 25 November 2016 following an approach from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council (CHC), that sought stronger collaboration. Policy Think Tank

The Policy Think Tank was held in Melbourne on 22 March 2018. A summary report that captures the day has been published.

Review of fast food menu labelling schemes

FRSC facilitated public and stakeholder engagement with industry, public health and consumer organisations, and relevant professional associations through a consultation paper and two roundtables for key industry stakeholders between 6 February and 16 March 2018.

The Forum endorsed the Consultation Summary Report: Review of fast food menu labelling schemes at its meeting in June 2018 and agreed that further targeted consultation is to be undertaken to develop policy options that aim to improve and strengthen fast food menu labelling in Australia. A broader range of stakeholders will be engaged in the next stage of the consultation.

Health Star Rating Symposium

The Symposium is planned for late in 2019.

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. New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC. Forum 25 November 2016.

In April 2017 the Forum agreed to extend the scope of this project to cover all parts of the food label, including the identification of all fats and oils.

The following activities that form the work program for Stage 1 have been completed:

  • research in Australia that includes identifying consumers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours relating to the labelling of fats and oils. This work is being commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Health as part of wider consumer study on food labelling;
  • a literature review on consumers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours relating to the labelling of fats and oils. FSANZ has offered to undertake this work;
  • identification of international approaches to fats and oils labelling;
  • the policy context relating to fats and oils in Australia and New Zealand; and
  • engagement with targeted stakeholders on fats and oils labelling.
The policy is being developed within the following framework.
In June 2018 the Forum noted the Stage 1 report and acknowledged that in relation to public health, consumers’ ability to identify saturated and/or mono and polyunsaturated fats in food is limited.

The Forum noted that the Food Regulation System does not permit the development of standards that are based on ecological concerns.

The Forum agreed that the following work be undertaken over the next 12 months:

  • the Australian Government Department of Health request the National Health and Medical Research Council to provide advice on the appropriate dietary guidance that should be provided to consumers to assist them to choose healthy fats and oils and limit consumption of less healthy fats and oils; and
  • seek input from the Stakeholder Roundtable in late 2018 that will consider smart labelling.

Maintaining a strong, robust and agile Food Regulation System

NameObjectiveLead Authorisation Status
Maintain a strong Food Regulation System Development of an approach and strategy to maintain a strong, robust and agile Food Regulation System. Ms Maria Gracie, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC. Work is being progressed through SPWG. On the 28 April 2017 the Forum agreed the 2017 – 2021 priorities for the Food Regulation System.

The Forum in June 2018 agreed that the central focus of work to maintain a strong Food Regulation System is ‘applying best practice regulatory approaches’. This will ensure the Food Regulation System is agile, responsible and robust. The three supporting work areas are:

  • awareness of and responsiveness to technological and business innovations;
  • strengthening engagement and partnerships with stakeholders; and
  • supporting the Food Regulation System with robust data and monitoring.
Updating the approach to niche foods that are labelled ‘not for human consumption’ Exploring options (and their implications) which may include amending the Model Food Provisions, to prevent circumvention of food regulations by labelling food ‘not for human consumption’. The Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) that is Chaired by Mr Jim Dodds, Western Australia Department of Health, and Ms Maria Gracie , New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. FRSC – 22 September 2017. Work is underway to future proof the Food Regulation System against instances where food is labelled 'not for human consumption' to circumvent the Food Regulation System.

The below projects are not aligned with the priorities but will be completed

NameObjectiveLead Authorisation Status
Misleading descriptions for food Development of an options paper Ms Elizabeth Flynn, Australian Government Department of Health, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC. Forum – 11 October 2018 The Forum at its meeting on 11 October 2018 requested the FRSC develop an options paper on how food standards, including labelling, definitions and other elements could be used to address concerns.
Food Waste Collation of existing work on food waste (including use by and best by dates) and to provide advice on the best mechanism to progress this issue. Ms Elizabeth Flynn, Australian Government Department of Health, leading this work on behalf of FRSC. Forum - 29 June 2018. The policy is being developed within the following framework.

At the Forum meeting on 11 October 2018, Ministers noted the breadth and causes of the issue, along with initiatives that are currently being undertaken in Australia, New Zealand and internationally to combat food waste. Australia has recently released the National Food Waste Strategy, which aims to address food waste in all aspects of the food chain and is working towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. New Zealand has recently agreed to a targeted briefing into food waste also with goal of halving food waste by 2030.

The Forum agreed that consumer education initiatives and information through the food regulatory system can support the wider government initiatives to address food waste. Australia and New Zealand will continue to work together globally on food waste.

Sport supplement products safety Enhance consumer safety in relation to sports supplement products. Ms Elizabeth Flynn, Australian Government Department of Health, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC. The Australian Government Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP wrote to FRSC in June 2018. Sport supplement products safety

At its meeting on 11 October the Forum:

  • requested that FSANZ undertake a full review of Standard 2.9.4 – Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods as a matter of priority to modernise the Standard to capture the expanding sports supplement market.
  • agreed to an action plan that draws from the outcomes of the roundtable which includes regulatory actions, targeted education and improved labelling to enhance the safety of consumers who choose to use sports supplements.
  • agreed to provide the action plan to the Meeting of Sport and Recreation Ministers for their information.
  • requested that FRSC work with the Therapeutic Goods Administration on the implementation of the action plan due to the crossover of products in this area.
Low Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Hemp as Food To monitor implementation of legislative changes required to allow the sale of Low THC Hemp Seeds as Food, and identify issues to be resolved to successfully implement changes to the Food Standards Code. A working group has been established by FRSC to undertake this work. Forum – April 2017 The working group has been established and is due to report to FRSC periodically.
FRSC, at its meeting on 22 September 2017, agreed that the coordination of surveillance and monitoring activities relating to compliance with the Code in relation to low THC hemp seeds as food should also be included in the next work program of ISFR as a proactive initiative.
Cost recovery models for the evaluation of dossiers for self-substantiation for general-level health claims Advice to the Forum on cost recovery for the 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 to undertake this work. Forum A trial assessment of self-substantiated food-health relationship dossiers has been undertaken by the ISFR to gather intelligence.
This trial has been completed and the report referred to the FRSC working group for consideration.
FRSC, at its meeting on 22 September 2017, agreed that no further work by the working group be undertaken at this time.
FRSC requested that ISFR provide a report on any outstanding issues arising from the implementation of Standard 1.2.7 - Nutrition, Health and Related Claims and any related policy issue.