SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) is responsible for developing and managing standards for food.
- Its role is to protect the health and safety of people in Australia and New Zealand by maintaining a safe food supply.
- Some of the standards FSANZ develops are for Australia and New Zealand, others are for Australia only.
- Overall, the Australian and New Zealand standards for food are known as the Food Standards Code.
- Food standards are enforced by Australian state and territory governments, the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture (for imported food), and the New Zealand Government.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is an Australian government agency that develops and manages standards for food – known as the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Parts one and two of the Code apply in New Zealand. These parts regulate the use of ingredients, processing aids, colourings, additives, vitamins and minerals. They also cover the composition (make-up) of some foods and include standards for genetically modified foods.
FSANZ is also responsible for labelling of both packaged and unpackaged food, including mandatory (legally required) warnings or advisory labels.
In Australia, FSANZ also sets primary production and processing standards, and 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, make changes to or reject standards and can ask FSANZ to review its decisions.
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 enforcing food standards relating 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 enough 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 making changes to standards for food
- developing standards for primary production (Australia only)
- providing information to consumers to help them make food choices
- coordinating national food surveillance, enforcement and food recalls (Australia only)
- doing consumer and industry research
- 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 in Australia and New Zealand. These include:
- state and territory government health departments and 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.
- The report may go out for another round of public comment. The comments received are analysed and changes 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.