Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

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Other document - Other as made
Commentary to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Administered by: Health
General Comments: The Commentary to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code - As made - 20/12/2000 is Supporting Material to the collection of Food Standards which have been published on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments as individual Legislative Instruments.
Registered 18 Jun 2009




The Australia New Zealand food standards system is a cooperative arrangement between Australia, New Zealand and the Australian States and mainland Territories to develop and implement uniform food standards.

The system for the development of joint Australia New Zealand food standards is established under a treaty between Australia and New Zealand signed in December 1995.  Within Australia, the system is based upon a 1991 Commonwealth, State and Territory Agreement in relation to the adoption of uniform food standard.

The system is implemented by food legislation in each State and Territory and in New Zealand, and by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority Act 1991 (the ANZFA Act) of the Commonwealth of Australia.  The ANZFA Act establishes the mechanisms for the development of joint food regulatory measures (a food standard or a code of practice) and creates the Australia New Zealand Food Authority as the agency responsible for the development and maintenance of a joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Although food standards are developed by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority, responsibility for enforcing and policing food standards rests with the States and Territories in Australia and the New Zealand government in New Zealand.  Each government has one or more agencies responsible for food surveillance within their health administration charged with the task of ensuring the requirements of the Food Standards Code are met.

Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code

The Food Standards Code is a collection of individual food standards.  Standards on related matters are grouped together into Parts, which in turn are collected together into three Chapters.  Chapter 1 deals with standards which apply to all foods, however, New Zealand regulates its own Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for food, and Standard 1.4.2 regulates MRLs in Australia only.  Chapter 2 deals with standards affecting particular classes of foods.  Chapter 3 deals with food hygiene issues in Australia.  New Zealand has its own food hygiene arrangements, and food hygiene is not part of the joint food standards system.

Food standards have the force of law.  It is an offence in New Zealand, and a criminal offence in Australia to supply food which does not comply with relevant food standards.  Notwithstanding food standards, it is also an offence to sell food which is damaged, deteriorated or perished, which is adulterated, or which is unfit for human consumption.  Because food standards are given legal effect by State, Territory and New Zealand laws, it is important to read this Food Standards Code in conjunction with the relevant food legislation.

This Code should also be read in conjunction with other applicable laws, such as the Australian Trade Practices Act and the New Zealand and State and Territory Fair Trading Acts.  The provisions in these Acts, particularly relating to conduct which is false, misleading or deceptive, apply to the supply of food in trade and commerce.

Food standards are developed or varied by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority, either by application from any agency or body or by a proposal of its own initiative.  Notices are published in Australia and New Zealand seeking comment from the public on applications and proposals.

When assessing a food regulatory measure matter, the Authority is required to take into account:

•             any submissions received from the public in response to its public notices;

•             three statutory objectives listed in order of priority:

(a)          the protection of public health and safety;

(b)          the provision of adequate information relating to food to enable consumers to make informed choices;

(c)          the prevention of misleading or deceptive conduct;

·        Other factors set out in the Act, are:

(a)          the need for standards to be based on risk analysis using the best available scientific evidence;

(b)          the promotion of consistency between domestic and international food standards;

(c)          the desirability of an efficient and internationally competitive food industry;  and

(d)          the promotion of fair trading in food.

•             relevant New Zealand standards; and

•             any other relevant matters.

Standards or variations to standards developed by the Authority are recommended for adoption to a council of Health Ministers known as the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council.  This Council is the decision-making body about food standards.  It meets approximately twice a year, but most business is conducted out-of-session through correspondence.

Standards adopted by the Council are published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette and the New Zealand Gazette.  Where appropriate, a commencement date for the standard is also specified.  The standards published in the Gazettes are adopted by reference and without amendment into the food laws of the States and Territories and of New Zealand.

How to seek a variation to a food standard

If you wish to apply for the development of a new standard, or variation of an existing standard, an application form can be obtained by writing to the Standards Liaison Officer at either of the addresses shown below:

Australia New Zealand Food Authority                        Australia New Zealand Food Authority

PO Box 7186                                                              PO Box  10559 The Terrace

Canberra MC  ACT  2610                                          Wellington  6036

AUSTRALIA                                                              NEW ZEALAND