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FSANZ approves food standards code revision

January 2, 2015

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) released its approved version of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code on December 16 2014.

FSANZ stated that the key goal of the revision was to make the Food Standards Code interact “more effectively” with State, Territory and Federal food legislation, especially with regard to enforcement against infringements and making clearer legal requirements. Provisions relating to food additives, processing aids and other nutritive substances were also updated, with such additions prohibited unless they are expressly permitted within the new version of the Code.

The experts weigh in

FoodLegal expert and food lawyer Charles Fisher disputed the FSANZ’s claim that the new Code makes no changes to current permissions, arguing that it actually imposes marketing restrictions and introduces intention into strict liability offences in relation to using restricted substances.

However despite Fishers criticisms, the new and improved Code has been branded a success and when active, will replace all standards in Chapters 1 (General Food Standards) and 2 (Food Product Standards) making them into individual legislative instruments. The current Chapter 3 (Food Safety Standards) and 4 (Primary Production Standards) will stay as they are, while a dictionary of helpfully defined terms will also be added.

Key points remain unchanged

Keeping the crucial Food Safety Standards in Chapter 3 unchanged isn’t surprising as the Food Safety Act 1991, as regulated by FSANZ, has worked perfectly for almost a quarter of a century – and food itself, food safety, food handling and food preparation have not changed significantly either. And Chapter 3’s five standards (Interpretation and Application; Food Safety Programs; Food Safety Practices and general requirements; Food premises and equipment; and Food Safety Programs – Service to vulnerable persons) are likely to remain the same for the foreseeable future.

No transition period will be necessary for the new Code, the last consolidated update of which occurred in 2002, and FSANZ has proposed that it should commence on the day that the current version ceases application: March 1 2016.