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Australian Food Standards Code Under Review

August 7, 2019

Despite having a strong food safety management system in place, food-borne illness continues to be a problem in Australia. Food poisoning affects an estimated 4.1 million Australians each year.

In April 2017, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) identified three priority areas for 2017–2021 to further strengthen the system. One of these priorities is to reduce food-borne illness, particularly related to Campylobacter and Salmonella, with a nationally consistent approach.

To assess whether, and how, food safety laws in Australia could be better supported by regulations, FSANZ is now reviewing Chapters 3 and 4 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). Requirements in Chapters 3 and 4 apply only to Australia.

Multiple code amendments expected

Food safety standards in Australia have not been reviewed since their development in 2000. Modernisation of Chapters 1 and 2 of the Code went into effect in March 2016; however, a review of Chapters 3 and 4 was deferred.

In the absence of this review, some jurisdictions adopted their own food safety requirements, which has led to national inconsistency in the food safety regulations placed on food businesses in Australia. An example of this would be the requirement for mandatory Food Safety Supervisors in NSW, QLD, VIC and ACT.

Review our Food Safety Supervisor State and Territory Guide to find out if your business is legally required to employ at least one person with a Food Safety Supervisor certificate (bearing in mind that this could change depending on the outcome of the review). 

As part of its review, FSANZ will consider:

  • requirements for food safety management in the food service and food retail sectors
  • potential development of a primary production and processing (PPP) standard for high-risk horticulture products
  • new technologies that have developed since the original standards were developed

In particular, FSANZ will address requests from the Forum, including requirements for specific food businesses to have:

  • a Food Safety Supervisor
  • evidence to demonstrate that key activities or control processes are being managed
  • mandatory training for all Food Handlers
  • requirements to manage food safety on-farm, including requirements for traceability

FSANZ is expecting to prepare a number of proposals to make amendments to the Code.

Potentially affected standards include:

  • Standard 3.1.1 – Interpretation and Application
  • Standard 3.2.1 – Food safety programs
  • Standard 3.2.2 – Food safety practices and general requirements
  • Chapter 4 – Primary Production and Processing standards (development of a new standard)

Completion of the assessment and preparation of the draft food regulation will be in place by the end of October 2019.
Public comment will be open from late November 2019 to mid-January 2020; consultations with the food service and food retail industries will also take place during this time.

If the proposals are approved in March 2020 and a review is not sought, the changes are expected to be registered as legislation by late May 2020.