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New Food Standards Australia New Zealand Launched

Media release from the Hon Trish Worth Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing

1 July 2002

New Food Standards Australia New Zealand Launched

The new Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), which replaces the Australian New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA), was officially launched in Canberra today by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Ms Trish Worth.

Ms Worth said this was a very exciting occasion and the culmination of years of hard work.

"Importantly, this is a not only the launch of FSANZ, but is also the start in earnest for full implementation of the new food regulatory system," Ms Worth said.

"A key element of this system is the policy/regulatory split, and already there are a number of policy guidelines under development, and one, the Primary Product Standards Policy Guideline, agreed to by Ministers.

"The new statutory Authority will have a Board with broader areas of expertise than does ANZFA. The prime function of the Authority will be to develop food standards that are to be adopted in Australia and New Zealand (within the scope of the Treaty between Australia and New Zealand) and then notify those standards to the new Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council.

"These standards are to be developed based on scientific and technical criteria and in accordance with the objectives of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991, dealing with protection of public health and safety and the provision of information to consumers.

"A feature of the new system is that FSANZ will also develop standards relating to primary production and processing under its normal standards setting process (for Australia only). This means that for the first time we have an organisation setting standards for the whole food chain. Therefore the FSANZ Board includes members with expertise in agriculture and primary food production.

"The new Authority will have new responsibilities. One of these is the setting of primary production and processing standards (for Australia only). I'm also pleased to see that a key feature of the new authority will be its continued emphasis on the protection of consumer rights.

"In addition, FSANZ will continue ANZFA's open and transparent process of public consultation, which allows public health, consumer and industry groups to have input into the standard setting process.'

In launching FSANZ today, Ms Worth presented the New Zealand High Commission with an Australian Diplomatic Note. The Note is a formal notification to the Government of New Zealand that Australia has completed its domestic processes necessary to allow entry into force of the amendments to the Joint Food Standards Treaty. New Zealand gave its Diplomatic Note to Australia on 17 June 2002.

"New Zealand is an equal partner in the new food regulatory system, and it is appropriate that we therefore have the Te Kumete Maori or The Maori Food Bowl before us," Ms Worth said.

"The Maori kumete food bowl is carved using traditional Maori methods. The handles represent two people and are symbolic of the indigenous cultures of New Zealand and Australia. The intricate patterns on one handle are the traditional tattoo of the Maori and the flowing patterns on the other handle are a representation of the traditional body markings of the Indigenous Australians. The arms of both handles are coming together and represent a combined effort to support a food bowl that will feed all people."

The new Chair of FSANZ is the Hon. Rob Knowles who has a sound knowledge of food issues and government processes and an extensive knowledge of State and Commonwealth health systems, and importantly, was a member of the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) Board.

Ms Worth said the Chairperson and Board members have expertise in a range of fields including public health; consumer affairs; food science; human nutrition; microbiology; food safety; biotechnology; veterinary science; the food industry; food processing or retailing; primary food production; international trade; government and food regulation.

"This mix of experience and skills will be of great value to FSANZ in its important role as food standards Regulator for Australia and New Zealand," Ms Worth said.

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