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Open for comment: proposed changes to FSANZ Act

by Andrew Thomson on April 14, 2021

Stakeholders within the F&B sector are being asked to comment on the proposed changes to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (FSANZ Act).

The three reform options presented in the Regulatory Impact Statement of the policy review will be open for input until midnight on Tuesday, 18 May 2021.

Background

In November 2019, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation endorsed an ambitious plan to reform the Bi-national Food Regulation System to ensure it remains strong, robust and agile into the future. Part of this plan was to reform the FSANZ Act.

The FSANZ Act is Australian legislation and underpins the Australia New Zealand Joint Food Regulatory System within which New Zealand participates as a partner under the bilateral Food Treaty.

The legislation has changed little in its 30-year history, leaving industry stakeholders to increasingly voice their concerns, calling for reforms as technology and trends change the sector.

Stakeholder consultation has begun, including public consultation on a Scoping Paper across October and November 2020 and targeted workshops with key government, industry, public health and consumer bodies.

It was from these discussions that three options emerged that will characterise the impact of the reforms.

Option one: retain the status quo.

Option one will propose no new legislative changes to the FSANZ Act, retaining the current pre-approval assessment processes for considering any changes to food standards via the existing application and proposal pathways.

The legislative framework may continue to develop over time (for example, through incremental changes to the Act and regulations and policy guidelines), but there would not be more wholesale and substantial change as a result of the review.

Option two: modernise the Act to make it agile, resilient and fit for purpose.

Option two seeks to modernise the Act to make it agile, resilient and fit for purpose. This includes creating a framework premised on data-driven, intelligence-led decision-making and better integration between system stakeholders that protect the Australian and New Zealand populations’ health and safety while minimising regulatory burden on industry.

The reforms include six key components that seek to update and expand the powers of the regulations.

Option three: build on FSANZ’s role to reinforce the binational nature of the joint food standards system

Option three seeks to change the Act to give FSANZ broader statutory functions to reinforce the binational nature of the joint food standards system. It builds on option two, incorporating all of the components set out, as well as four additional components of change, including giving FSANZ the power to enforce.

More information on the consultation and how to provide a submission is available on the Consultation Hub.