Food Regulation 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
The way we work
These activities are underpinned
|Reduction of foodborne illness||To reduce foodborne illness, particularly related to Campylobacter and Salmonella, with a nationally-consistent approach.||Work is being led by Dr Lisa Szabo (NSWFA) and Ms Sophie Dwyer (Qld Health) supported by a Priority 1 action leads group||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 Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (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 commenced in early 2018. Consultation with industry, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the Public Health Laboratory Network, Communicable Diseases Network Australia and OzFoodNet was held between 12 February and 6 April 2018.
The Forum launched Australia’s Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy 2018-2021+ at its meeting on 29 June 2018. FRSC has developed an extensive project plan, consisting of short-term and mid- to long-term projects, to give effect to the strategy.
The program of work to implement the Strategy was discussed at a joint meeting of FRSC and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on 31 October 2018.
Details on the initial projects are outlined below:
Identify arrangements that would need to be established to facilitate data sharing.
Work is being led by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) through ISFR (Data Sharing working group).
The Food Regulation Standing Committee at its meeting of 23 March 2018 agreed to three activities that support the Strategy to reduce foodborne illness in Australia.
Actively progressing work. Draft principles to guide data sharing developed. A draft document developed illustrating how the challenges and barriers to data sharing can be addressed by the principles. Work underway to map the type and categories of data of interest to be shared and to develop a plan for stakeholder engagement.
|Develop a shared understanding of food safety culture with a focus on raw egg products.||The working group is led by SA Health through ISFR.||Scoping and planning phase.|
|A. Campylobacter attribution study and implementation of research outcomes.
B. Nationally consistent implementation of poultry process hygiene criteria in Australian processing facilities.
|Project A: will be undertaken by the ISFR Data Sharing working group.
Working Group B: Led by Australian Meat Regulators Group (NSW Chair) through ISFR.
|In December 2018, the Forum noted that a project has commenced on building a shared understanding of food safety culture amongst food regulators and certain food business sectors using raw and lightly-cooked egg foods as a case study. A pilot using a suite of materials will be undertaken in 2019.
Scoping and planning phase.
|Energy labelling of alcoholic beverages||Development of a policy on energy labelling of alcoholic beverages.||Work is being led by Mr Mark Lindsay, Western Australia, 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:
||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.
|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 Christel Leemhuis, 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 and agreed to move to the next stage in the policy development framework.
In June 2018 the Forum noted the substantial work that has been progressed.
Public consultation on a range of policy options in relation to the labelling of sugars on food and drinks was undertaken for a ten-week period between 11 July and 28 September 2018.
A FRSC reference group is in the process of analysing the submissions.
|Support obesity prevention objectives||Identify opportunities for the Food Regulation System to support obesity prevention objectives.
The Collaboration project plan commits to:
|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.||
Policy Think Tank
The Policy Think Tank was held in Melbourne on 22 March 2018. A summary report that captures the day has been published.
FRSC facilitated public and stakeholder engagement with industry, public health and consumer organisations, and relevant professional associations through a consultation paper and two roundtables for key industry stakeholders between 6 February and 16 March 2018.
The Forum endorsed the Consultation Summary Report: Review of fast food menu labelling schemes at its meeting in June 2018 and agreed that further targeted consultation is to be undertaken to develop policy options that aim to improve and strengthen fast food menu labelling in Australia. A broader range of stakeholders will be engaged in the next stage of the consultation.
Health Star Rating Symposium
The Symposium is planned for late in 2019.
|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.||New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC.||Forum 25 November 2016.
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 been completed:
|The policy is being developed within the following framework.
In June 2018 the Forum noted the Stage 1 report and acknowledged that in relation to public health, consumers’ ability to identify saturated and/or mono and polyunsaturated fats in food is limited.
The Forum noted that the Food Regulation System does not permit the development of standards that are based on ecological concerns.
The Forum agreed that the following work be undertaken over the next 12 months:
|Maintain a strong Food Regulation System||Development of an approach and strategy to maintain a strong, robust and agile Food Regulation System.||Ms Maria Gracie, 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.||The Forum in June 2018 agreed that the central focus of work to maintain a strong Food Regulation System is ‘applying best practice regulatory approaches’. This will ensure the Food Regulation System is agile, responsible and robust. The three supporting work areas are:
|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’.||The Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) that is Chaired by Mr Jim Dodds, Western Australia Department of Health, and Ms Maria Gracie, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.||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.|
|Misleading descriptions for food||Development of an options paper||Ms Christel Leemhuis, Australian Government Department of Health, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC.||Forum – 11 October 2018||The Forum at its meeting on 11 October 2018 requested the FRSC develop an options paper on how food standards, including labelling, definitions and other elements could be used to address concerns.|
|Food Waste||Collation of existing work on food waste (including use by and best by dates) and to provide advice on the best mechanism to progress this issue.||Ms Christel Leemhuis, Australian Government Department of Health, leading this work on behalf of FRSC.||Forum - 29 June 2018.||The policy is being developed within the following framework.
||At the Forum meeting on 11 October 2018, Ministers noted the breadth and causes of the issue, along with initiatives that are currently being undertaken in Australia, New Zealand and internationally to combat food waste. Australia has recently released the National Food Waste Strategy, which aims to address food waste in all aspects of the food chain and is working towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. New Zealand has recently agreed to a targeted briefing into food waste also with goal of halving food waste by 2030.|
|Sport supplement products safety||Enhance consumer safety in relation to sports supplement products.||Ms Christel Leemhuis, Australian Government Department of Health, is leading this work on behalf of FRSC.||The Australian Government Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP wrote to FRSC in June 2018.||At its meeting on 11 October the Forum:
|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 Christel Leemhuis, 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.