Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

Primary content

Orders/Other as made
This order is classifying and identifying particular kinds of fish products and uncooked ready-to-eat meats as risk foods, so they can be inspected and analysed for relevant hazards.
Administered by: Agriculture and Water Resources
Registered 19 Dec 2016
Tabling HistoryDate
Tabled HR07-Feb-2017
Tabled Senate07-Feb-2017
Date of repeal 05 Jan 2017
Repealed by Division 1 of Part 3 of Chapter 3 of the Legislation Act 2003

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

 

Issued by Authority of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

 

Imported Food Control Regulations 1993

 

 

Imported Food Control Amendment (Fish, Fish Products and Uncooked Ready-to-eat Meat) Order 2016

 

Legislative Authority

 

The following provisions of primary and subordinate legislation provide authority for the amendments in the Imported Food Control Amendment (Fish, Fish Products and Uncooked Ready-to-eat Meat) Order 2016 (the Amendment Order):

·           paragraph 16(2)(a) of the Imported Food Control Act 1992 (IFC Act) provides that the regulations may empower the Minister to make orders identifying food of a particular kind to be inspected, or inspected and analysed, and to vary orders so made

·           subparagraph 7(a)(i) of the Imported Food Control Regulations 1993 (IFC Regulations) provides for the Minister to make orders identifying food of a particular kind as food of a kind that is to be inspected, or inspected and analysed, under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme

·           subparagraph 7(a)(ii) of the IFC Regulations provides for the Minister to make orders identifying risk food of a particular kind as food that must be covered by a recognised foreign government certificate

·           regulation paragraph 7(b) provides for the Minister to from time to time vary orders

·           regulation 8 of the IFC Regulations provides for the Minister to make orders classifying food of a particular kind to be risk food

·           regulation 9 of the IFC Regulations specifies that food of a particular kind may be classified as risk food if the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (now Food Standards Australia New Zealand) advises the Minister under section 17 of the IFC Act that the food has the potential to pose a high or medium risk to public health

·           regulation 12 of the IFC Regulations provides that the Minister may make orders reclassifying food.

 

Purpose

 

The purpose of the Amendment Order is to:

 

·           classify particular kinds of fish products and uncooked ready-to-eat meats as risk foods, so that these foods can be inspected and analysed for relevant hazards at a rate that is consistent with the risk to public health; and

·           identify particular uncooked ready-to-eat meats as kinds of risk food that must be covered by a recognised foreign government certificate, so that evidence of hygienic production controls is provided for these foods.

Background

 

As specified in paragraph 13(1)(l) of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991, it is a function of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to develop assessment policies in relation to imported food. FSANZ has published risk statements identifying certain foods as posing a medium or high risk to public health. Some of these foods include fish and fish products that were not classified as risk foods and were therefore not being subjected to the inspection and analysis consistent with their risk to public health.

 

In addition, FSANZ has also published risk statements advising that uncooked slow dry cured ready-to-eat ham is not a medium or high risk to public health. Uncooked slow dry cured ready-to-eat ham was classified as a risk food because it is a manufactured meat that is uncooked (in the previous item 10 of Clause 1 of Schedule 1 to the Principal Order). This food was therefore being subjected to unnecessary inspection, analysis and delay costs as a risk food.

 

Furthermore, FSANZ has also published risk statements advising that three kinds of uncooked ready-to-eat meats are a medium or high risk to public health for the pathogenic microorganism Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). To protect public health and safety, measures are needed to ensure that imports of these meats have been produced in accordance with hygienic meat production controls.

 

Impact and Effect

 

The Amendment Order classifies more species of fish and fish products as risk foods so that these foods can be inspected and analysed for the substance histamine at a rate that is consistent with the risk to public health. This reclassification results in an initial increase in the rate of inspection and analysis for the substance histamine in these foods. This inspection rate reduces as consignments are found to comply.

 

The Amendment Order also reclassifies the uncooked ready-to-eat meats that are risk foods. This results in uncooked slow dry cured ready-to-eat ham (such as Parma ham, prosciutto) no longer being classified as a risk food and therefore no longer being subjected to unnecessary inspection, analysis and delay costs as a risk food.

 

The Amendment Order also requires recognised foreign government certification for three kinds of uncooked ready-to-eat meats (such as jerky, mettwurst) so evidence of hygienic production controls is provided for these foods. This is expected to have no impact because other than from New Zealand, there are currently no imports of these meats due to biosecurity requirements. The recognised foreign government certification requirement does not apply to these meats if they are a product of New Zealand. If biosecurity requirements change then before these meats could be imported, the exporting country would need to negotiate government certification with Australia to ensure hygienic production controls are in place for these meats.

 

Consultation

 

Public comment on the risk classification of the species of fish and fish products and the recognised foreign government certification of uncooked ready-to-eat meats was requested in an Imported Food Notice and notified to the World Trade Organization in October 2016. At the time of making the Amendment Order, the department had not received any comments that would prevent the making of the Amendment Order.

 

In addition to public consultation, industry was also consulted about the Amendment Order through the Imported Food Consultative Committee, which is the department’s forum for consultation with the food and beverage importing industry. The committee contains representatives of the Food and Beverage Importers’ Association, Australian Food and Grocery Council, Seafood Importers’ Association of Australia and FSANZ. The committee did not have any comments on the Amendment Order.

 

As required by section 17 of the Act, FSANZ were consulted about the Amendment Order. FSANZ advised that the Amendment Order was consistent with the risk assessment advice provided to the department by FSANZ.

 

The department consulted with the Office of Best Practice Regulation who advised that based on the information provided to them, the Amendment Order is likely to have only a minor regulatory impact on business, community organisations or individuals and that a Regulation Impact Statement did not need to be prepared (ID 21020 and 21048).

 

Other

 

The Amendment Order is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared under section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011. A full statement of compatibility is set out in the Attachment.

 

The Amendment Order is a legislative instrument for the purposes of the Legislation Act 2003.

 

Details of the Imported Food Control Amendment (Fish, Fish Products and Uncooked Ready-to-eat Meat) Order 2016

 

Section 1 – Name

This section provides that the name of the Amendment Order is the Imported Food Control Amendment (Fish, Fish Products and Uncooked Ready-to-eat Meat) Order 2016.

 

Section 2 – Commencement

This section provides for the Amendment Order to commence on 4 January 2017 to provide for an orderly introduction of the new requirements.

 

Section 3 – Authority

This section provides that the Amendment Order is made under regulations 7, 8 and 12 of the IFC Regulations.

 

Section 4 – Schedules

This section provides that the Imported Food Control Order 2001 (the Principal Order) is amended as set out in the Schedule.

 

Schedule 1 – Amendments

 

Item 1 inserts new definitions of ‘dried meat’ and ‘sausage’ to specify what these expressions mean in the Principal Order. These definitions are the same as the expressions used in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

 

Item 2 amends suborder 5(1) to provide that three kinds of uncooked ready-to-eat meats in item 10 of Clause 1 of Schedule 1 to the Principal Order must be covered by recognised foreign government certification. These meats are uncooked ready-to-eat dried meat (for example, jerky), uncooked ready-to-eat sausages (for example, mettwurst) and uncooked ready-to-eat spreadable sausages.

 

Section 18 of the IFC Act provides for the Secretary to determine that a certificate issued by an instrumentality of a foreign government is a recognised foreign government certificate. This kind of certification is regularly used by importing countries to ensure certain requirements have been observed in the production of the food in an exporting country. 

 

Subparagraph 7(a)(ii) of the IFC Regulations provides for the Minister to make orders identifying risk food of a particular kind that must be covered by a recognised foreign government certificate. For this authority, the amendment to suborder 5(1) requires recognised foreign government certification for three kinds of uncooked ready-to-eat meats.

 

The amendment is necessary because:

a.         based on advice received from FSANZ, these uncooked ready-to-eat meats pose a medium or high risk for the pathogenic microorganism STEC, which can cause life threatening illness; and

b.        there is no practical means of analysing these meats for the presence of this microorganism and general Escherichia coli testing is insufficient for identifying whether pathogenic STEC is present; and

c.         hygienic meat production controls in Standard 4.2.3 – Production and Processing Standard for Meat in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code are the only effective means of managing the risk of pathogenic STEC; and

d.        evidence of these hygienic meat production controls can only be provided through a recognised foreign government certificate.

 

The amendment is expected to have no impact on current trade. This is because, other than from New Zealand, there are currently no imports of these uncooked ready-to-eat meats due to biosecurity requirements. If biosecurity requirements change then before these meats could be imported, the exporting country would need to negotiate government certification with Australia to ensure hygienic production controls are in place for these uncooked ready-to-eat meats.

 

Suborder 5(1) does not apply to New Zealand product and so the requirement for recognised foreign government certification does not apply to food produced in or imported into New Zealand.

 

Item 3 repeals item 8 and adds new items 8, 8A and 8B in the table to clause 1 of Schedule 1 to the Principal Order. The effect of these amendments is to classify more kinds of fish and fish products as risk foods and retain ‘ready-to-eat finfish’ as a risk food.

 

Regulation 9 of the IFC Regulations specifies that food of a particular kind may be classified as risk food if the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (now FSANZ) advises the Minister under section 17 of the IFC Act that the food has the potential to pose a high or medium risk to public health. Regulation 8 of the IFC Regulations provides for the Minister to make orders classifying food of a particular kind to be risk food.

 

Items 8(a), (b) and (c) of clause 1 of Schedule 1 to the Principal Order previously specified that tuna, tuna products and mackerel were risk foods.

 

Consistent with regulation 9, FSANZ has advised that the following foods are a medium or high risk to public health for the substance histamine:

a.         fish of the family Carangidae (for example, trevallies, jacks and pompanos);

b.         fish of the family Clupeidae (for example, herrings and sardines);

c.         fish of the family Coryphaenidae (for example, mahi-mahi);

d.        fish of the family Engraulidae (for example, anchovy);

e.         fish of the family Pomatomidae (for example, bluefish);

f.          fish of the family Scomberesocidae (for example, King Gars and saury);

g.         fish of the family Scombridae (for example, tuna, mackerel and bonito);

h.         fish products that contain more than 300 g/kg of all or any of the kinds of fish listed in paragraphs (a) to (g) above.

Histamine poisoning (also known as Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning or scombroid fish poisoning) may occur following consumption of fish which has not been appropriately preserved following capture. Excess histamine can affect the cardiovascular system (tachycardia, headache, hypotension, rash and flushing), gastrointestinal tract (cramps, nausea, vomiting diarrhoea) and neurological functions (pain and itching). Unsafe levels of histamine in fish have been commonly associated with fish in the families of Scombridae, Coryphaenidae, Pomatomidae, Carangidae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae and Scomberesocidae.

Consistent with the advice provided by FSANZ, the amendments to the Principal Order result in the fish and fish products in items 8 and 8A being classified as risk foods. The effect of this classification is to initially increase the rate of inspection and analysis for the substance histamine in these foods. This inspection rate reduces over time as consignments are found to comply.

Tuna and mackerel are members of the family Scombridae. Therefore the risk food classification of all fish in the family Scombridae and food containing more than 300 g/kg of fish in the family Scombridae means that tuna, tuna products and mackerel continue to be classified as risk foods.

The amendments are necessary to ensure that the inspection and analysis of these additional fish and fish products is consistent with the risk to public health. This reclassification of these additional fish and fish products enables the department to more effectively monitor the levels of the substance histamine in the fish and fish products, and ensure that the level of histamine complies with the requirements in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

The increased rate of inspection and analysis does not apply for holders of food import compliance agreements (under section 35A of the IFC Act) or where foreign government certification applies. This is because other mechanisms are used to monitor compliance under these alternative arrangements.

The amendments are to Schedule 1 to the Principal Order and therefore do not apply to New Zealand product. New Zealand has measures in place to manage the potential for histamine formation in fish and the limit for histamine in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code also applies in New Zealand.

The existing risk food of ‘ready-to-eat finfish’ has been retained as a new item 8B.

 

Item 4 repeals item 10 and inserts a new item 10 in the table in clause 1 of Schedule 1 to the Principal Order to classify particular kinds of uncooked ready-to-eat meats as risk foods.

 

Regulation 9 of the IFC Regulations specifies that food of a particular kind may be classified as risk food if the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (now FSANZ) advises the Minister under section 17 of the IFC Act that the food has the potential to pose a high or medium risk to public health. Regulation 8 of the IFC Regulations provides for the Minister to make orders classifying food of a particular kind to be risk food.

 

Item 10 of clause 1 of Schedule 1 to the Principal Order previously specified that all manufactured meat that is uncooked was a risk food.

 

Consistent with regulation 9, FSANZ has advised that the uncooked ready-to-eat meats that are a medium or high risk to public health are:

·         Uncooked dried meat that is ready to eat (for Salmonella spp. and STEC);

·         Uncooked sausages that are ready-to-eat (for Salmonella spp. and STEC);

·         Uncooked spreadable sausages that are ready-to-eat (for Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., STEC and staphylococcal enterotoxin).

Consistent with the published advice from FSANZ, the amendments refine the risk foods to the three uncooked ready-to-eat meats in item 10 of clause 1 of Schedule 1 to the Principal Order. The reclassification results in uncooked slow dry cured ready-to-eat ham (such as Parma ham, prosciutto) no longer being classified as a risk food. The amendments mean that this food is not subjected to unnecessary inspection, analysis and delay costs as a risk food. This reduces inspection time and costs without compromising public health and safety.

The amendments are to Schedule 1 to the Principal Order and therefore do not apply to New Zealand product.

 

 


Attachment

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Imported Food Control Amendment (Fish, Fish Products and Uncooked Ready-to-eat Meat) Order 2016

 

This Legislative Instrument is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.

 

Overview of the Legislative Instrument

The Imported Food Control Amendment (Fish, Fish Products and Uncooked Ready-to-eat Meat) Order 2016 (the Amendment Order):

 

·           classifies particular kinds of fish products and uncooked ready-to-eat meats as risk foods, so that these foods can be inspected and analysed at a rate that is consistent with their risk to public health; and

·           identifies particular uncooked ready-to-eat meats as kinds of risk food that must be covered by a recognised foreign government certificate, so that evidence of hygienic production controls is provided for these foods.  

 

Human rights implications

 

The Amendment Order engages the right to health (Article 12) in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

 

The Amendment Order engages and promotes the right to health in Article 12 of the ICESCR by providing for:

 

·         the inspection and analysis of histamine in fish and fish products to determine if these foods are safe; and

 

·         requiring certification of hygienic production controls for uncooked ready-to-eat meats so these foods are safe.

 

Conclusion

 

The Amendment Order is compatible with human rights because it is promoting the right to health through controlling substances and microorganisms in food so that food is safe for human consumption.

 

 

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources