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Food Safety A Priority From Paddock To Plate

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

1 July 2002

Australia's food safety record will be boosted by an agreement to transfer standard setting for primary products to the new Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Trish Worth, announced today.

Ms Worth said that the Council of Australian Governments had agreed that FSANZ would assume responsibility for developing primary production standards for use in all Australian States and Territories.

"Food Ministers have agreed to an overarching Policy Guideline on Primary Production and Processing Standards to guide FSANZ in this development. It prescribes that the new standards maintain Australia's safe food supply through a consistent approach across the entire food chain without being trade restrictive or by placing an excessive regulatory burden on industry," Ms Worth said.

"The endorsement of the policy guideline is another step in the successful transfer of primary products standard setting to FSANZ.

"This ensures that for the first time a single national framework exists for the development of all domestic food standards covering the entire food supply chain."

Ms Worth said it made good sense to apply the same decision making processes to primary production and processors of primary products along with manufactured foods which, up until now, have been the main focus of FSANZ.

"Australia has a proud food safety record but increasingly public confidence is being challenged as they see new food safety issues emerge overseas such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE - sometimes referred to as 'mad cow' disease)," Ms Worth said.

"It is important to demonstrate to the Australian community and to our trading partners that safety is a priority from the beginning of the food chain to consumption stage.

"However, this does not mean farmers will face unrealistic regulations. I will be seeking up-to-date information as the new standard setting system develops - particularly if there are any unintentional consequences that may adversely affect primary producers."

JOINT COMMUNIQUE 28 June 2002 TRANSITIONAL ARRANGMENTS FOR THE JOINT FOOD STANDARDS CODE AND A POLICY GUIDELINE ON PRIMARY PRODUCTS Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Ministers meeting via teleconference today agreed on a number of important food issues. Implementation of the Joint Food Standards Code On 20 December 2002 the Australian Food Standards Code (Volume 1 of the Food Standards Code) and the New Zealand food regulations will be replaced, following a two-year transition period, by a joint Food Standards Code for both Australia New Zealand. Stock-in-Trade Provisions At the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Council meeting on 24 May 2002, Ministers indicated in-principle support for the transition arrangements concerning the implementation of the Joint Food Standards Code pending a formal recommendation from the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) Board. Ministers today endorsed a 12 months stock-in-trade provision for all general food products; a 24 month stock-in-trade provision for long shelf-life products; and for food packaged at the point of sale, a 12 months extension to the transition period for labelling requirements except those that are important to protect the safety of consumers. These arrangements apply only to finished foods produced and packaged before 20 December 2002. Transitional Arrangements for Repeal of Volume One of the Food Standards Code Ministers today confirmed that the transition period will end on 20 December 2002. Ministers also agreed to include in Volume 2 of the Food Standards Code transitional arrangements for those issues remaining unresolved such as health claims; country of origin labelling; infant formula; labelling of royal jelly and other bee products; warning statements for condensed milk; modified milk and skim milk and special purpose foods (for New Zealand only). Primary Product Standards Policy Guideline (Australia Only) Ministers have agreed to an overarching policy guideline on Primary Production and Processing Standards. Ministers had previously endorsed both the model detailing the system and the protocol outlining the process for the development of the Primary Production and Processing Standard. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) will replace the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) on 1 July 2002 and will assume responsibility for developing Primary Production Standards for use in all Australian States and Territories. The policy guideline will be followed by FSANZ in this development. It prescribes that the new standards maintain Australia's safe food supply through a consistent approach across the entire food chain without being trade restrictive or by placing an excessive regulatory burden on industry. The endorsement of the Overarching Policy Guideline is another step in the successful transfer of primary products standard setting to FSANZ. This ensures that for the first time a single national framework exists for the development of all domestic food standards covering the entire food supply chain. Ministers also agreed to a review of the policy guideline by the Food Regulation Standing Committee after 12 months.


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