Key documents that underpin the joint food regulatory system.

Key documents for the food regulation system

Page last updated: 21 November 2016

A number of important documents form integral parts of the joint food regulation system such as the Joint Food Standards Treaty between Australia and New Zealand, the Food Regulation Agreement (Australia), the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991, Food Standards Code and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement. Below you will find a brief explanation of each document.

The Food Regulation Agreement (PDF 83 KB) (FRA) is an inter-governmental document signed by all Australian governments in November 2000 committing to a national system of food regulation.
The objectives of the system as set out in the FRA are:
  • providing safe food controls for the purpose of protecting public health and safety;
  • reducing the regulatory burden on the food sector;
  • facilitating the harmonisation of Australia’s domestic and export food standards and their harmonisation with international food standards;
  • providing cost effective compliance and enforcement arrangements for industry, government and consumers;
  • providing a consistent regulatory approach across Australia through nationally agreed policy, standards and enforcement procedures;
  • recognising that responsibility for food safety encompasses all levels of government and a variety of portfolios; and
  • supporting the joint Australia and New Zealand efforts to harmonise food standards.
The FRA has two attachments which contain the model food provisions that are split into Annex A (PDF 109 KB) and Annex B (PDF 282 KB).

The model food provisions that are split into Annex A and Annex B provide a legislative basis for a ‘substantially equivalent’ national uniform food safety regime. Each of the States and Territories used these annexes as the base to amend their respective food acts. Annex A was to be applied uniformly while Annex B could vary between jurisdictions. By doing this Food standards developed by FSANZ are automatically adopted by reference, through respective jurisdictional Food Acts, when these are gazetted.

New Zealand joined the Australian System and is involved in the current food standards setting and policy development processes. It is not a signatory to the Food Regulation Agreement outlined above, but has signed The Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand establishing a System for the Development of Joint Food Standards. This treaty sets out the agreement between Australia and New Zealand in relation to the joint food regulatory system, and was initially signed in 1995.

The Food Treaty seeks to reduce unnecessary barriers to trade, to adopt a joint system of food standards, to provide for timely development, adoption and review of food standards and to facilitate sharing of information.

The Treaty was reviewed between January 2006 and October 2007, with a number of improvements being identified. The updated Treaty came into effect on 6 July 2010.

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 established the process for the making of food standards, including the opportunities for stakeholder involvement. It also establishes the FSANZ Board and describes the appointment process for Board members.

The joint Food Standards Code is developed and administered by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and includes the joint food standards for Australia and New Zealand covering;
  • the microbiological safety of food;
  • the composition of food, including contaminants, residues, additives or other substances; and,
  • information about food, including labelling and advertising.
The Code also contains information on the purpose, interpretation and application of standards. These food standards generally apply to all foods produced or imported for sale in Australia and New Zealand (with regards to composition and labelling standards).

The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA) is the agreement between the Australian Government, State and Territory Governments and the Government of New Zealand which came into effect in 1998.

Under the TTMRA, with a few exceptions a good (including food products) that may be legally sold in Australia may be sold in New Zealand, and vice versa. This is regardless of differences in standards or other sale-related regulatory requirements between Australia and New Zealand.

The TTMRA incorporates a Temporary Exemption mechanism giving participating jurisdictions the right to ban unilaterally, for 12 months, the sale of goods in their jurisdiction for health, safety or environmental reasons. Before the Temporary Exemption expires, the COAG Council responsible for the affected good is required to determine whether a particular standard should apply to the good, and if so, the appropriate standard.

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