The way our food system operates

Page last updated: 14/02/2023

Any system designed to achieve the production of safe food is, by its very nature, complex and includes a large number of stakeholders who all have a legitimate contribution to make to the production of safe food. Our system reflects the many and varied businesses and stakeholders in the food supply chain and the different layers in the Australian system of government and their respective constitutional responsibilities.

Australia and New Zealand largely share a common approach to food standards. The way our food system operates in Australia and New Zealand is established through 2 main documents, the Food Regulation Agreement (FRA) and The Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand Concerning a Joint Food Standards System (Joint Food Standards Treaty ).These agreements are further strengthened by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 and legislation in each country and their jurisdictions (states or territories).

The Australian jurisdictions have an agreed national system for food regulation. New Zealand joined this system under conditions that are set out in the Joint Food Standards Treaty. Australia and New Zealand share food standards for labelling and end product standards - the Food Standards Code (the Code) - for foods for sale. These, and all other Australian food standards, are developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Australia and New Zealand each have their own laws for the production and processing of food. More information on the development of New Zealand laws can be found at .

These arrangements reflect our cooperative system, and commitment to a developing a seamless trans-Tasman food policy. Both governments are strongly committed to more closely integrating the 2 markets, including overcoming unnecessary regulation for trans-Tasman businesses. This is part of moving towards a general uniformity of standards supported by the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA).

Under the TTMRA, with a few exceptions, a food (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.

However, it is important to note that under the agreed Joint Food Standards Treaty, New Zealand can opt out of any standard that is to be included in the common Food Standards Code; should New Zealand consider that standard to be inappropriate on certain grounds.

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