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: 21 March 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 the Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) that is Chaired by Mr Jim Dodds, Western Australia Department of Health, and Ms Jenny Reid, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. 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 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 will commence in 2018 and will be undertaken in consultation with industry, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the Public Health Laboratory Network, Communicable Diseases Network Australia and OzFoodNet.
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. Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) members from Queensland, South Australia and Victoria are working together to progress this work. FRSC The policy is being developed within the following framework
Policy Process stage 'D - Define success'
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.
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/Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR) working group that is led by Dr Eva Bennet, the ISFR Chair. In 2011 the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (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
 

  1. Complete
 

  1. Complete
  1. State and Territory based stakeholder consultation has commenced.

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 which will be undertaken in early 2018.

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.

The Forum agreed to move to the next stage in the policy development framework.

Support obesity prevention objectives Identify opportunities for the food regulation system to support obesity prevention objectives. 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. 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.
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. Ms Jenny Reid, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC. Forum 25 November 2016. The policy is being developed within the following framework.
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 commenced:
  • 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.
Sugar free claims on alcohol To address concerns that sugar free claims on alcoholic beverages are misleading and that alcohol is being promoted as a healthier choice for consumers when public health advice is to limit alcohol intake. Mr Mark Booth, CEO of FSANZ, is leading this work. Forum Ministers are aware of an increasing number of alcoholic beverages for sale in Australia and New Zealand with the claim they are “% sugar-free”. The Forum has asked FSANZ to review the matter in relation to the Standard and claims about carbohydrate and its components, such as sugar claims about food containing more than 1.15% alcohol.

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 Jenny Reid, 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.

Work to develop a strategy has commenced and is due to be completed in June 2018.

The FRSC is focusing on continuing improvement in the following areas:

  • applying best-practice regulatory approaches;
  • strengthening engagement with consumers and stakeholders; and
  • maintaining robust data and monitoring systems.
The Forum, during its meeting in November 2017, asked FRSC in undertaking this work that it ensures the food regulation system can keep pace with new technologies and new food preferences.
Policy Guideline on Nutrition, Health and Related Claims (the Policy Guideline) Refresh of the Policy Guideline to reflect the current policy position. Ms Jenny Reid, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC. FRSC agreed to the refresh at its meeting on 22 September 2017. A progress report is to be presented to FRSC in March 2018. This will be followed by stakeholder consultation.
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’. Ms Sophie Dwyer, Queensland Department of Health, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC. 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.
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.
Public consultation on the revised draft enforcement guideline will be undertaken for a six week period commencing mid June 2017.
The work is to be completed 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 the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. 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.

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

NameObjectiveLead Authorisation Status
Pregnancy warnings on alcohol labels Development of a policy on pregnancy warnings labels on alcohol. Ms Elizabeth Flynn, Australian Government Department of Health, and Ms Julia Edmonds, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, are leading this work.

The Forum, during it meeting on 24 November 2017, asked FRSC to develop policy advice and to conduct key stakeholder consultation.

The findings of the 2017 Australian and New Zealand evaluation of the voluntary labelling initiative to place pregnancy health warnings on alcohol products were considered by the Forum during its meeting on 24 November 2017.

Industry uptake and implementation of the pregnancy health warnings on alcohol products have increased over time. However, there continue to be some product categories where adoption of the pregnancy health warning labels is low.

The Forum asked FRSC to expedite the development of policy options. A consultation document is to be developed that includes: mandatory versus voluntary application; most appropriate pictogram; and most appropriate and most easy to understand message to discourage drinking during pregnancy.

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.
Review of FRSC’s round table engagement concept Review of the FRSC round table concept that was developed and trialled during 2016 and 2017. The Victorian FRSC members lead this review. FRSC – 22 September 2017 The review that will include consultation with attendees of the three round tables will be conducted in late 2017.
The outcomes of the review will be considered by FRSC in early 2018.

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