Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation Communiqué

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation met on 16 August 2019 to consider a range of food regulation matters. Key outcomes from the meeting include: Health Star rating five-year review (better labelling and more consumer education needed); Links between obesity and chronic disease (‘requires a multi-sectorial approach’); Labelling of sugars (a pictorial approach considered helpful); Fast food menu board labelling (needs to be nationally consistent); Fermented beverages (presence of alcohol is problematic); and, Contamination by salmonella enteriditis (200 x confirmed cases). More generally, modernisation of the food regulation system, and energy labelling of alcoholic beverages were also topics for discussion.    Source: The Forum decides

Government Orders Review to Weigh Up 'Added Sugar' Labels

Australians could finally have access to information about how many "empty calories" are in the soft drinks and packaged foods they buy, after state and federal ministers ordered a review to consider mandatory "added sugar" labelling. State and federal food ministers from Australia and New Zealand, who sit on the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, announced the move while releasing the final report of the five-year review of the Health Star Rating System. The ministers "agreed to request that Food Standards Australia New Zealand review nutrition labelling for added sugars, noting that the option to quantify added sugars in the nutrition information panel best met the desired outcome”.   Source: Dana McCauley, SMH Sugar labelling (Please see also: Food Regulations: Sugar )

Ban on Importation of Mini Jelly Cups Containing Konjac

Konjac is a binding food additive that comes from the root of the konnyaku plant. When eaten, it does not dissolve easily. Konjac is also known as ‘konjac flour’, ‘konjaku’, ‘konnyaku’ ‘conjac’, ‘konjonac’, ‘glucomannan’, ‘yam flour’, ‘yam powder’, ‘taro flour’ and ‘taro powder’ and is obtained from the tuber of the Amorphophallus spp. Mini jelly cups containing konjac having a height or width of less than or equal to 45mm are banned for sale under Australian Consumer Law. Mini jelly cups are small confectionery products often sold in multi-packs. A product ban is in place on mini jelly cups containing konjac because there is a risk they may cause serious injury or death from choking.   Source: Konjac ban   (See also: ACCC notice of Konjac ban)

Debrief: Strawberry Tampering Incident

In September 2018, a food tampering incident occurred involving sewing needles inserted into Australian strawberries. Initially an isolated event in Queensland, the incident escalated involving multiple tampering events in strawberries and other fruit across the country. Only a few instances were believed by authorities to be associated with the original event with most other instances believed to be multiple hoax or 'copycat' events. Queensland Health and the Queensland Police Service led the incident investigation and response. State and territory food regulatory agencies and the Australian Government have also responded with a range of measures including removing implicated strawberries from sale, introducing and strengthening penalties for food tampering, and imposing stricter conditions for strawberry export. FSANZ released its report on the strawberry tampering incident including key recommendations focusing on the need for improved communication during incidents, particularly those involving criminal matters.   Source: The strawberry incident

Imported Food Inspection Scheme Publishes Inspection Data Results Summary for 2018

The Department of Agriculture is responsible for managing Australia's biosecurity system. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) advises them on food that poses a medium or high risk to human health and safety. The inspection and control of imported food through the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS) is a risk-based border inspection program. This report provides summary data from imported food inspections conducted under the IFIS from 1 January to 31 December 2018. To help contextualise the inspection data, this report includes information on food trade, such as the composition of Australian food imports and countries of origin.   Source: Imported food inspections 2018 summary

June 2019 Failing Food Report

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources targets and monitors food determined to pose a high or medium risk to public health. Risk food is targeted at the rate of 100 per cent until a history of food safety compliance is established. When an emerging human health and safety hazard is identified in food, the department may temporarily increase monitoring and testing. This latest report details food that was found to fail under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme during the month of June. Among the usual pathogenic organisms detected in these imported foods are such organisms as Staphylococci E coli, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella, and assorted toxins such as hydrocyanic acid, chlorpyrifos, aflatoxin and many more. Of particular note are the number of foods ‘failing’ due to the illegal presence of added vitamins and or minerals and also irradiation.   Source: Latest failed foods

NZ Biosecurity Boost

Biosecurity New Zealand has recruited 101 new officers to help secure the country’s borders from invasive pests and diseases. Biosecurity New Zealand now has 600 officers, up from 450 in 2013. The new 101 officers will be split between Auckland (70), Wellington (15), Christchurch (12) and Queenstown (4). New Zealand’s main international airports are based in these locations.   Source: NZ biosecurity strengthened

FSANZ Notifications—

Proposal P1052 – Primary Production and Processing Requirements for High-risk Horticulture: The purpose of this proposal is to consider the development of a primary production and processing (PPP) standard for high-risk horticulture as part of a broader review of chapter 3 and 4 of the Food Standards Code.   Source: PPP horticulture

Proposal P1053 – Food Safety Management tools: The purpose of this proposal is to consider food safety management requirements for the food service and retail sector.   Source: Food safety

Proposal M1017 – Maximum Residue Limits (2019): The purpose of this proposal is to consider varying certain maximum residue limits (MRLs) for residues of specified agricultural and veterinary chemicals that may occur in food commodities.​   Source: MRLs food

Application A1176 – Enzymatic production of Steviol Glycosides: The purpose of this application is to seek approval for a new specification for steviol glycosides produced by an enzymatic conversion method using enzymes derived from genetically modified strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli).   Source: GM steviol

Application A1183 – Enzymatic production of Rebaudioside E: The purpose of this application is to seek approval for a new specification for the steviol glycoside Rebaudioside E produced by an enzymatic conversion method, using enzymes derived from a genetically modified strain of the yeast, Pichia pastoris.   Source: Pichia pastoris enzyme

Application A1184 – Glucoamylase from GM Aspergillus niger (donor Trametes cingulata): The purpose of the application is to approve the use of glucoamylase sourced from GM Aspergillus niger containing the gene from Trametes cingulata.   Source: GM glucoamylase

A1185 – Alpha-amylase from Aspergillus niger as a Processing aid (enzyme): ​​​The purpose of this application is to approve the use of Alpha-amylase sourced from Rhizomucor pusillus in GM Aspergillus niger.   Source: GM alpha-amylase

Application A1186 – Soy Leghemoglobin in meat analogue products: The purpose of the application is to allow the use of soy leghemoglobin derived from P.pastoris as a component in meat analogue products.   Source: Meat analogue

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