Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council Communique 4 December 2002

Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministers have agreed on a number of important food issues including transitional standards issues for New Zealand

Page last updated: 21 November 2016

Joint communique

4 December 2002
Food Ministers Approve A Number of Food Standards Including Transitional Standards Issues for New Zealand

It was announced today that Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministers who met via teleconference on 3 December 2002, have agreed on a number of important food issues.

New Zealand Transitional Standards Issues

The Ministerial Council noted New Zealand's proposed transitional food regulations. New Zealand Food Regulations within the scope of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the joint Code), established under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Agreement (ANZ Food Treaty) are due to be revoked on 20 December 2002. In the context of its review of Food Regulations in preparation for the implementation of the joint Code, New Zealand has identified four specific issues which it proposes to retain on a transitional basis. These areas relate to mutton birds, fluoridated water in food, caffeinated artificial drinks and the use of hemp seed oil as a food or food ingredient. Ministers noted that Australian and New Zealand officials were exploring appropriate regulatory mechanisms for preventing the import into Australia from New Zealand of caffeinated artificial drinks and hemp seed oil as a food or food ingredient.

Listeria Risk Assessment Risk Management Strategy

The former Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council requested in November 2000 that the microbiological limits for Listeria monocytogenes be reviewed. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) undertook to review the L.monocytogenes limits set for cooked crustacea and ready-to-eat processed finfish in Volume 2 of the Food Standards Code. FSANZ recommended an amendment to Standard 1.6.1 to delete the microbiological limit for L.monocytogenes in cooked crustacea. After consideration, the Ministerial Council requested a first review based on public health and safety grounds. As required by legislation, FSANZ will complete the review within 3 months. Until the review process is completed, the existing limits on cooked crustacean and fish will apply.

Minor Omnibus No. 3

Since the gazettal of Volume 2 of the Food Standards Code, a number of errors or oversights of minor significance or complexity including inconsistencies, misspellings, grammatical errors and omissions have been identified which require correction to ensure that the standards are strictly correct and enforceable, thereby protecting public health and safety. The Ministerial Council have agreed to these minor amendments being made.

However, the Ministerial Council requested a first review of one of the amendments under consideration in the omnibus. The Council requested that FSANZ review the proposed amendments to Standard 2.9.2 - Food for Infants to require the labelling of sodium (salt) in nutrition information panels. Given the complexities of this review, the Ministerial Council extended the normal three-month timeframe to nine months to ensure that the review is carried out thoroughly.

Safety Assessment of Raw Milk Very Hard Cooked Curd Cheeses

The Ministerial Council agreed to a new standard on the safety assessment of raw milk very hard cooked curd cheeses. Ministers have also agreed that FSANZ will undertake to complete a review of the new standard by December 2003, confirm that they support dairy authorities imposing food safety management systems or equivalent under jurisdictional regulations as a requirement for any domestic manufacture of raw milk very hard cooked curd cheeses and confirm with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) the need to ensure that enforcement and compliance of the microbiological standards of the new joint Food Standards Code will apply to imported raw milk very hard cooked curd cheeses.

Amendments for the Labelling of Home Brew Kits

The Ministerial Council agreed to vary Standard 1.2.8 - Nutrition Information Requirements of the Food Standards Code to exempt kits that are designed to be used to produce alcoholic beverages from the requirement to include a Nutrition Information Panel on the label. The Food Standards Code exempts alcoholic beverages from requiring a Nutrition Information Panel on the label.

Anomaly with the Transitional Standard for Milk

The Ministerial Council agreed to Amendments for the Transitional Arrangements for Labelling of Milk to address a labelling issue arising from transition arrangements put in place to facilitate implementation of Volume 2 of the Food Standards Code. The issue relates to the labelling of condensed milk, modified milk and skim milk, and the requirements for warning statements to be provided on those products and gives producers of this product a reasonable period of time to adjust their labels after 20 December 2002. The amendment will allow both countries to continue using either the current Australian wording or the current New Zealand wording for a further two years, up until the new Standard 1.2.3 - Mandatory Advisory Statement, becomes compulsory on 17 September 2004. This does not pose a public health and safety concern and will ensure equity and consistency for milk producers in the transition period.

Transporting the Caffeine in Soft Drinks Permission from the New Zealand Food Regulations

The Ministerial Council have agreed to a New Zealand only Transitional Standard for Caffeine in Artificial Drinks to permit, in New Zealand, the continued addition of caffeine at a level no higher than 200mg/kg to soft drinks after the transition to the Joint Code on 20 December 2002. This is a transitional arrangement to continue the permission contained in the New Zealand Food Regulations 1984 until such time as the policy guidelines on caffeine in food and any standards developed as a result have been fully considered by Ministers. This is a temporary standard and will only be in place for 12 months. Ministers noted that Australian and New Zealand officials were exploring appropriate regulatory mechanisms for preventing the import into Australia from New Zealand of caffeinated artificial drinks.

Amendments to Standard 2.9.2 - Foods for Infants: Electrolytic Iron as a Permitted Form of Iron; and Clarification of 'Juice'

The Ministerial Council have agreed to reinstate permission to add elemental iron in the form of electrolytic iron or reduced iron to cereal-based foods for infants. The Ministerial Council also agreed to amendments to clarify the meaning of 'juice' in Standard 2.9.2 so it is consistent with its meaning in Standard 2.6.1 Fruit Juice and Vegetable Juice.

Media contact:
Kay McNiece, Media Adviser,
ANZFRMC Secretariat 0412 132 585 OR
+61 412 132 585 (NZ)

Lydia Buchtmann,
FSANZ 0411 268 525 OR +61 411 268 525 (NZ)

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