Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is a bi-national government agency that develops and administers the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
The Code regulates the use of ingredients, processing aids, colourings, additives, vitamins and minerals. It also covers the composition of some foods and includes standards for genetically modified foods. FSANZ is also responsible for labelling of both packaged and unpackaged food, including mandatory warnings or advisory labels.
In Australia, FSANZ also prepares primary production and processing standards, and sets maximum residue limits for agricultural and veterinary chemicals. In New Zealand, these activities are undertaken by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.
The FSANZ Board decides whether or not to approve changes to the Food Standards Code. These decisions are notified to Australian and New Zealand ministers responsible for food regulation (the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation). The forum can adopt, amend or reject standards and can ask FSANZ to review its decisions.
The forum also develops domestic food regulatory policy and policy guidelines for setting domestic food standards.
Food standards enforcement
Food standards are enforced by Australian state and territory governments and the New Zealand Government through their individual Food Acts. The Department of Agriculture is responsible for enforcement in regard to imported food.
The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991
FSANZ operates under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991. The main objectives of this Act are to:
- protect public health and safety
- provide adequate information about food to help consumers make informed choices and to prevent fraud and deception
- prevent misleading and deceptive conduct
Role of FSANZ
FSANZ's role is to protect the health and safety of people in Australia and New Zealand by maintaining a safe food supply.
FSANZ is responsible for:
- developing and amending standards for food manufacturing, labelling and processing
- developing standards for primary production (Australia only)
- providing information to consumers to enable better consumer choice
- coordinating national food surveillance, enforcement and food recalls (Australia only)
- conducting consumer and industry research
- undertaking dietary exposure modelling and scientific risk assessments
- providing risk assessment advice on imported food (Australia only).
Role of other agencies in maintaining food standards
FSANZ works with a number of government agencies or departments both in Australia and New Zealand. These include:
- state and territory government health departments or food regulatory agencies that enforce the Food Standards Code
- the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which enforces the Food Standards Code on imported foods
- the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which regulates the use of therapeutic goods, including medications
- the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), which is responsible for approving agricultural and veterinary chemicals for use
- the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.
Changing the Food Standards Code
Anyone can apply to change standards in the Food Standards Code. FSANZ can also raise proposals to amend the code if an important food safety issue arises.
The process for changing the code includes:
- A new application or proposal is submitted to FSANZ.
- The application or proposal is assessed, and an initial assessment report is produced. This is cleared by the FSANZ Board and goes out for public comment.
- Public comment is analysed and an assessment report is prepared, which includes a scientific risk assessment.
- This assessment report is approved by the FSANZ Board.
- Another round of public comment may be sought, then these comments are analysed and amendments made to the report if necessary.
- The FSANZ Board approves or rejects the final assessment report.
- The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation is notified of the decision and if ministers do not request a review, the standard is gazetted (published) and incorporated into the Food Standards Code.
- Once approved, any new standard or variation to a standard is adopted by Australian states and territories, and by New Zealand authorities, and becomes part of food legislation.
Where to get help
- FSANZ Canberra office Tel. (02) 6271 2222
Things to remember
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) main responsibility is to develop and administer the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
- FSANZ works with all stakeholders on new standards, including the Australian state and territory and New Zealand governments.
- State and territory governments and the New Zealand Government, along with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture (for imported food) are responsible for enforcing the code.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
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