Implementation and enforcement of food laws

Page last updated: 21 November 2016

Australian state and territory governments and the New Zealand government implement and enforce the food standards developed by FSANZ through their respective laws. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources enforces the Food Standards Code at the border in relation to imported food through the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

The Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR) aims to ensure food standards are implemented and enforced consistently. ISFR is made up of representatives from food regulation authorities in Australia and New Zealand. ISFR was set up by the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) to foster a consistent approach across jurisdictions to implementing and enforcing food regulation. The ISFR terms of reference were endorsed by FRSC on 2 May 2014. PDF printable version of the ISFR terms of reference.

ISFR members are either heads of agencies or senior operational experts who can make and implement decisions about compliance and enforcement issues in their jurisdictions.

How food standards are implemented, monitored and enforced

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 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 – There are more than 530 local councils in Australia, and 67 territorial authorities in New Zealand, involved in monitoring and enforcement activities.
The government agencies, wherever possible, work together to ensure food regulations are implemented and enforced consistently. This work is done through ISFR, through face-to-face meetings, out-of-session business and separate collaborations.

ISFR’s role applies equally to imported, exported and domestically produced food.

One of ISFR’s key roles is monitoring the safety of the food supply and compliance with food laws. Members develop a surveillance plan which identifies and prioritises survey activities. The resulting food survey reports are made publicly available on the FSANZ website.

While all jurisdictions involved in food regulation work together on implementing and enforcing food regulation, there are sometimes differences in the way jurisdictions administer food law. ISFR consults with the various jurisdictions with the aim of minimising these differences across jurisdictions as much as possible. ISFR has developed a number of Guidelines to help industry comply with legislative obligations (e.g. food standards developed by FSANZ).

ISFR is not an enforcement authority in its own right. It allows Australian and New Zealand food regulators to discuss common approaches to implementation and develop agreed strategies to achieve a consistent approach to the way food regulations are implemented, interpreted and enforced across jurisdictions.

To assist with consistent enforcement ISFR has developed:

Australia and New Zealand Enforcement Guideline

National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Guideline

Principles for Introducing Point-of-Sale Nutrition Information at Standard Food Outlets

Risk Profiling Framework

Food Labelling Compliance and Enforcement Strategy

Principles for inspection of food business

Undeclared allergen incident and investigation protocol

Health claims and enforcement

Through-Chain Investigation Guidelines for Egg Associated Outbreaks

Home Jurisdiction Rule Fact Sheet

Altering Date Marks on Foods – Guidance Material

Compliance and Enforcement Model for Mandatory Folic Acid Fortification

National Compliance and Monitoring Strategy of GM Foods

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