Past activities

Information about past activities of the Food Regulation system.

Page last updated: 30 July 2018

The table below lists activities that have been completed and outlines the outcome.
Name Objective Outcome Lead
Low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) hemp as a food Investigate information gaps in relation to low THC hemp as food. The project looked to address the following information gaps:
  • law enforcement issues, particularly from a policing perspective in relation to roadside drug testing;
  • potential conflicts with state and territory and New Zealand laws and obligations;
  • the necessity for a maximum cannabidiol (CBD) level in a potential food standard; and
  • that the use of hemp in foods may send a confused message to consumers about the acceptability and safety of Cannabis.
In April 2017 Ministers considered the final report on the information gaps identified in considering the adoption of low-THC hemp seeds as a food. Ministers noted the key finding of the Consumption Report is that it is highly unlikely that consumption of food products containing the levels of THC tested would result in any positive tests on oral fluid, blood or urine. In light of these findings Ministers supported the draft standard that will allow low-THC hemp seeds to be sold as a food. The standard will take effect six months after gazettal. Ministers acknowledged that there is still a range of New Zealand and State and Territory legislation that currently prohibits the sale of low-THC hemp seeds as a food which will need to be amended. This work was led by a FRSC working group chaired by Tasmania.
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.

The Forum at its meeting on
29 June 2018 noted the recent increase of foodborne illness outbreaks in Australia and agreed that there is a need to reassess the food safety risk management of the five high risk horticulture sectors: ready to eat, minimally processed fruits and vegetables, fresh leafy green vegetables, melons, berries, and sprouts.

Forum Ministers requested that FSANZ identify appropriate regulatory and non-regulatory measures for Australia to manage food safety risks in these sectors. This work will contribute to the implementation of Australia’s Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy 2018-2021+ which identifies horticulture as a target area.

Progress on this work can be monitored on the FSANZ website.

FRSC
Policy Guideline on Nutrition, Health and Related Claims (the Policy Guideline) Refresh of the Policy Guideline to reflect the current policy position. In June 2018 the Forum agreed to update the Policy Guideline to incorporate the following changes:
  • the existence of three types of claims;
  • the existence of pre-approved general level health claims;
  • correcting examples of pre-approved general level health claims for accuracy; and
  • minor corrections (e.g. transitional provisions and out of date names).
The updated Policy Guideline has been published on the Food Regulation website.
Ms Jenny Reid, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, led this work on behalf of FRSC.
Food Safety Management for General Food Service and Closely Related Retail Sectors

In 2011 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 food safety management arrangements in Australia for the eight sectors within its scope.

FRSC were ask to:

  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.

Following stakeholder engagement with industry and local government, possible options for nationally consistent food safety arrangements were identified.

The Forum at its meeting on 29 June 2018 requested that FSANZ consider a proposed package of regulatory and non-regulatory measures for Australia to better manage risks in the sectors covered by the Policy Guideline.

Progress on this work can be monitored on the FSANZ website.

The work was undertaken by a joint FRSC and ISFR working group that was led by Dr Eva Bennet, the ISFR Chair.
Sugar free claims on alcohol

Forum Ministers have been made aware of an increasing number of alcoholic beverages for sale in Australia and New Zealand with the claim they are “% sugar-free”.

The Forum 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.

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.

In June 2018 the Forum noted a technical assessment prepared by FSANZ on this issue and noted that in addition to the identified issues concerning sugar claims there is also issues more broadly concerning carbohydrate claims on food that contain alcohol.

Based on the technical assessment, FSANZ has agreed to raise a proposal to clarify Standard 1.2.7 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code in line with the original policy intent that prohibits claims on alcoholic beverages in relation to sugar and carbohydrate. This work will be undertaken over the next 12 months and includes stakeholder consultation.

Progress on this work can be monitored on the FSANZ website.

Mr Mark Booth, CEO of FSANZ, led the initial work.
Evaluation of mandatory fortification The aim of the project was to ascertain whether the policy objectives of mandatory folic acid fortification of wheat flour for bread making, and mandatory iodine fortification of bread have been met.
The policy objectives were to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects (serious birth defects) in the Australian population by increasing the folic acid intakes of women of child-bearing age, and to address the re-emergence of iodine deficiency in the general population of Australia and New Zealand.
In April 2017 Ministers approved the Stage Three report (Final Report) of the Review.
Ministers noted that mandatory folic acid fortification of wheat flour for bread making has reduced the incidence of Neural Tube Defects in Australia, and that mandatory iodine fortification of bread has addressed the re-emergence of mild iodine deficiency in the general populations of Australia and New Zealand and has led to iodine sufficiency at the population level in both countries.
Ministers acknowledged industries’ contribution toward these important public health outcomes.
This work was undertaken by a joint FRSC and Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) working group led by Ms Elizabeth Flynn, Australian Government Department of Health.
Review of enforcement guideline To 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. In March 2018, FRSC endorsed the revised Strategy and appendices which have been amended to address submitter comments: FRSC also agreed that the Food Labelling Compliance and Enforcement Strategy is no longer required and relevant material has been included in the revised Strategy. A working group led by South Australia Health was established to progress this work.
Review of FRSC’s Roundtable engagement concept The objective of the evaluation, which was undertaken between late 2017 and early 2018, was to consider what worked, and what can be improved, in the way the Roundtables are designed and delivered. It was informed by participants’ feedback. In May 2018, FRSC accepted the Evaluation Report and agreed to implement all of its recommendations. The Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources led this review on behalf of FRSC.
Core activities to promote consistent approaches to implementation and compliance Interpretation of, and compliance with, the Food Standards Code. Preparation of documents and communication approaches to meet industry’s needs for advice. ISFR developed communications material that has been published as part of the new Food Regulation website. This work was undertaken by ISFR.
Synthetic foods as an emerging area of interest Prepare a report on the potential safety, nutritional and labelling issues that might need to be considered to maintain Australia’s and New Zealand’s reputation as producers of safe, high quality food. Forum 25 November 2016. Food Standards Australia New Zealand prepared the report.
Promoting the Food System Development of collateral to support the Food Regulation System Communications Strategy that, in turn, supports the implementation of the Blueprint. A communications collateral package that includes an editable PowerPoint slide deck has been successfully tested, and the materials made available to FRSC and ISFR members. Dr Lisa Szabo, from the NSW Food Authority, led this work with assistance from Qld and FSANZ on behalf of FRSC.
Food Regulation website Development of a user friendly website. Following extensive stakeholder engagement and feedback the Forum launched the new stand-alone website on 25 November 2016. Visit the new food regulation website – www.foodregulation.gov.au The site explains the collaborative joint Food Regulation System. The Food Regulation Secretariat led this project.
Health star rating – dairy substitute beverages Consideration of how dairy (milk) substitutes should be categorised in the HSR system and how they should be treated under the relevant standard.
Food medicine interface protocol review The Food Medicine Interface (FMI) Protocol sets out the roles and responsibilities for Australian government agencies (national and state) in responding to products that present at the FMI. The review of the protocol was initially delayed to provide time for a sufficient number of products to be assessed under the protocol. A review was undertaken in February 2016 which considered key aspects of the application of the FMI Protocol. A number of recommendations for improving and optimising the application of the FMI Protocol were identified and have been implemented. The Australian Government Department of Health (including the TGA), NSW Food Authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and Queensland Department of Health participated in the review of the FMI Protocol.
Development of a context paper in relation to sugar To develop a policy context paper in relation to sugar to support FRSC’s consideration of the FSANZ Technical Evaluation of Recommendation 12 in the Labelling Logic: Review of food labelling law and policy (Labelling Review) that amongst other things relation to sugar. A policy context paper that investigated the current issues relating to sugars, with an emphasis on added sugars was considered by FRSC at is September 2016 meeting. Australian Government Department of Health led this work.
Implementation Blueprint for New Strategic Direction In collaboration with FRSC, develop a communication strategy to inform and align with the implementation of the FRSC Implementation Blueprint for New Strategic Direction. In April 2016 FRSC considered the Communications Strategy and agreed integrate it with stakeholder engagement strategy as part of a phased approach to implementing the Blueprint over the next twelve months with assistance and oversight from the Strategic Planning Working Group. This work was led by Safe Food Production QLD
Investigation into Salmonella outbreak in salad products Policy review
The policy framework is being used to investigate salmonella outbreak in salad products and regulatory and non-regulatory measures to address farm practices in producing and processing leafy greens
Work led by Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Development of Front of Pack Labelling On 9 December 2011 the Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) provided its response to Labelling Logic: Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (2011), which included an agreement to develop a single interpretive front-of-pack labelling system (Recommendation 50). On 27 June 2014, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) endorsed the voluntary front-of-pack labelling scheme, the Health Star Rating (HSR) system. A HSR Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee) was established to oversee the voluntary implementation of the HSR system. The HSR system website and education campaign were launched on Saturday 6 December 2014. The Health Star Rating system was developed by the Australian, state and territory governments in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups.
Pregnancy warnings on alcohol labels - evaluation of voluntary labelling initiative The final report on the evaluation of the uptake of the voluntary labelling initiative was provided to Food Ministers in June 2014. In light of the results of the final report the Forum agreed to extend the existing trial on voluntary uptake of pregnancy health warnings on alcohol product labels, and to undertake a review in two years. On 13 January 2014, the Australian Government Department of Health engaged Siggins Miller to undertake an independent evaluation of the voluntary labelling initiative.
Review of evidence on the effects and international regulation of caffeinated energy drinks To undertake a review of the current evidence relating to the trends, consumption patterns and potential harmful effects associated with caffeinated energy drinks. The review also considered current national and international regulatory requirements for these products. Evidence was gathered from a range of sources including; peer reviewed publications, non-government and government research, current legislative frameworks and relevant data sources, and the report released.
Review of food labelling laws and policy The Ministerial Council on 23 October 2009 announced that former Australian Health Minister, Dr Neal Blewett AC, would head a panel that would undertake a comprehensive examination of food labelling law and policy. On 28 January 2011 the Review Panel officially presented the Final Report – Labelling Logic – and it was publicly released on the same day. Australian Government Department of Health led this work
Review of the operations of the ministerial council On 2 May 2008, the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council) finalised the first review of its operations and endorsed the implementation of seven recommendations.
Monitoring and Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance in Food Food Regulation Standing Committee commissioned Food Science Australia to conduct a pilot survey of foods for bacteria resistant to antibiotics. The pilot survey for antimicrobial (AMR) resistant bacteria in Australian food provided data that can be used to estimate the prevalence of AMR bacteria in selected foods purchased at retail outlets. Four retail foods; poultry, beef, pork and lettuce along with four target organisms; Campylobacter, Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Enterococcus constitute the nine food / bacterium combinations included in the survey. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing