Past activities

Information about past activities of the Food Regulation system.

Page last updated: 25 January 2021

The table below lists activities that have been completed and outlines the outcome.
Name Objective Outcome Lead

Activities arising from the Health and Food Collaboration (Collaboration).

Support obesity prevention objectives

The time-limited Collaboration was established in 2016 to identify opportunities for the Food Regulation System to support obesity prevention objectives.

The Collaboration assisted in the Review of fast food menu labelling schemes, with continuing work towards nationally consistent Menu Board Labelling a current Priority 2 activity.

A Policy Think Tank was held in Melbourne on 22 March 2018 to explore opportunities for the food regulation system to support obesity prevention. A summary report that captures the day has been published.

A Rapid Review was commissioned to inform the Policy Think Tank which considered food regulatory approaches to address childhood obesity. The Rapid Review report has been published.

Findings from the Policy Think Tank informed development of additional activities that could be implemented within the Food Regulation System to support public health objectives to reduce chronic disease related to overweight and obesity. The suite of activities was agreed by the Forum in August 2019.

The Collaboration was established to progress this work and was Chaired by the FRSC Chair.

Policy Guideline on Food Labelling to Support Consumers Make Informed Healthy Choices.

Develop a Policy Guideline on food labelling to support consumers to make informed healthy choices.

The Policy Guideline on Food Labelling to Support Consumers Make Informed Healthy Choices was endorsed by the Forum in August 2020. The policy guideline was developed following targeted and public consultation. The consultation report has been published.

Australian Government Department of Health.

Policy Guideline on labelling in relation to the dietary guidelines.

Develop a Policy Guideline on food labelling to support consumers to make informed healthy choices.

Australian Government Department of Health and New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.  

In August 2019 the Forum agreed to a program of activities under Priority two off or the Food Regulation System to contribute towards reducing chronic disease related to obesity.

Pregnancy warnings on alcohol labels.

The Forum noted a Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS) with four options for progressing pregnancy warning labels on packaged alcoholic beverages at its meeting on 11 October 2018.

On 17 July the Forum confirmed its ongoing commitment to mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol to ensure women are appropriately informed about the advice to not consume alcohol while pregnant.

The Forum considered the review report for Proposal P1050 completed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) since the 14th Forum meeting held 20 March 2020. As requested by the Forum, the FSANZ review focussed on the colours and signal wording in the draft pregnancy warning label design. The FSANZ review re-affirmed Proposal P1050, subject to two amendments: a change to the signal words from ‘HEALTH WARNING’ to ‘PREGNANCY WARNING’, and an extended transition period for implementation, from two years to three years.

The Forum accepted the proposed draft standard for pregnancy warning labels. The standard for pregnancy warning labels will now be gazetted and included in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. An implementation period of three years will apply from the date of gazettal.

The Australian Government Department of Health and New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries led this work on behalf of FRSC.

Health Star Rating 5 year review response.

To develop and implement the HSR 5 year review response.

In 2019, the Forum finalised their response to the HSR system five year review report and its recommendations for enhancing the HSR system. Forum Ministers noted that the HSR system is a useful tool to assist consumers in making healthy food choices, and agreed that it should continue with some amendments resulting from the review.

On 19 December 2019, the Forum published a response to the recommendations of the HSR Five-Year Review. The response included a request for FSANZ to undertake a peer review of the modelling that underpinned the Review, and a request that the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC), supported by FSANZ, provide further advice in relation to: definitions for minimally processed fruits and vegetables, and unsweetened flavoured water; sugars and sodium levels in the HSR Calculator; and interim uptake targets.

Ministers also requested that FRSC develop a Review Implementation Plan, and consider the way edible oils are treated under the HSR system.

At their 17 July meeting, Ministers endorsed the Review Implementation Plan and an implementation start date of 15 November 2020; and finalised a response to the outstanding decision points.

The Forum also agreed that:

  • the minimum calcium content for dairy substitute beverages to be considered within HSR would be increased from its current level to ≥100mg/100ml, and
  • FSANZ’s Peer Review, relevant FRSC advice and the Review Implementation Plan will be published on the HSR website in the coming weeks.

The Forum considered a proposal from the Australian Government that 100% fresh fruit and vegetable juice (no added sugar) should receive an automatic HSR score of 5 stars, or be included within the definition of a ‘minimally processed fruit and vegetables’. However this was not supported and the status quo (Review recommendations) will be maintained. The Forum requested FRSC consider and provide further advice on the treatment of artificially-sweetened beverages and 100% vegetable and fruit juice beverages at the November Forum meeting.

FRSC led this work

Food Waste

To collate existing work on food waste (including use by and best by dates) and to provide advice on the best mechanism to progress this issue. 

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.

Forum - 29 June 2018. Australian Government Department of Health, led this work on behalf of FRSC.

Updating the approach to niche foods that are labelled ‘not for human consumption’ 

FRSC agreed on 22 September 2017 to explore 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’.

Work was undertaken to future proof the Food Regulation System against instances where food is labelled ‘not for human consumption’ to circumvent the Food Regulation System.

This work is currently addressed under the Priority of Maintaining a strong, robust and agile Food Regulation System.

The Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) undertook this work.

Energy labelling of alcoholic beverages

Development of a policy on energy labelling of alcoholic beverages.

Forum agreed to refer the work on energy labelling on alcoholic beverages to FSANZ and request FSANZ consider energy labelling as part of the work relating to alcohol labelling which is already underway, but not to delay the work on developing pregnancy warning labels for alcoholic beverages.

This work was undertaken by FRSC.

Investigate labelling approaches for providing information on sugars

Develop the evidence base to further investigate labelling approaches for providing information on sugars.

In August 2019, the Forum asked FSANZ to review nutrition labelling for added sugars. The request was in response to policy paper ‘’ produced by FRSC -  on the labelling of sugars on packaged foods and drinks which found that information about added sugars on food labels is limited and/or unclear, which limits consumers' ability to make food choices consistent with dietary guidelines.

This work was undertaken by FRSC.

Cost recovery models for the evaluation of dossiers for self-substantiation for general-level health claims

To provide advice to the Forum on cost recovery for the FSANZ evaluation of dossiers for self-substantiation for general level health claims.

A trial assessment of self-substantiated food-health relationship dossiers was undertaken by the ISFR to gather intelligence.

This trial has been completed and the report was 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.

A FRSC working group chaired by the Australian Government Department of Health was established to undertake this work.

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.

Development of a context paper in relation to sugar

To develop a policy context paper in relation to sugar to support the the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC)  consideration of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (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.

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 was established to oversee the voluntary implementation of the HSR system. The HSR system website and education campaign were launched on 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.

Evaluation of mandatory fortification

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.

The Review was undertaken in three stages:

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 the Australian Government Department of Health.

Fish species and origin

Collation of existing work on naming fish species and origin at retail outlets and Quick Service Industry.

At their meeting of 11 October 2018, Australian Forum Ministers considered advice prepared by the FRSC concerning seafood labelling in the food service sector.

The Forum was advised of the current Australian provisions that enable consumers to request country of origin information for seafood directly from the foodservice business and that based on extensive consumer research, there is insufficient evidence to warrant extension of the current Australian Country of Origin Labelling legislation to seafood in the foodservices sector.

The Forum agreed to write to the Consumer Affairs Forum to request they further consider the issue of country of origin seafood labelling in the food service sector with respect to any new evidence and experience.

The Australian Government Department of Health to lead this work on behalf of FRSC.

Food Labelling Law and Policy Review

At the request of the Council of Australian Governments, the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council commissioned a comprehensive Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy.

The Review Panel released its final report, Labelling Logic, on 28 January 2011.

On 9 December 2011 the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation agreed its response.

A report on the progress of the implementation of the Government response is also publically available.

An independent panel established by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council led the Review. The response to the Review was developed by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation.

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.

Food Regulation website

Development of a user friendly website.

Following extensive stakeholder consultation, the Forum launched the new stand-alone website on 25 November 2016. Visit the new food regulation website.

The site explains the collaborative joint Food Regulation System.

The Food Regulation Secretariat led this project.

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.

The Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) were asked 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.

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.

The Forum 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.

Food Regulation Standing Committee.

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.

In 2016, Forum agreed that this issue should be re-examined as part of the Health Star Rating

five year review.

The Food Regulation Standing Committee undertook this work at the request of Forum.

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 to 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.

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Work was led by Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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.

Review of the operations of the ministerial council

Consider the limitations and areas for improvement identified in the review report and make recommendations to improve 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 that are contained in the Review Report.

All recommendations contained in the Review of Ministerial Council Operations Final Report have now been implemented

 

Sugar free claims on alcohol

Forum Ministers were 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 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.

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

FSANZ led the initial work.

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.