Food regulation system

The Australian and New Zealand joint food regulation system is designed to protect the health and safety of consumers. It is a complex system that involves all levels of the Australian and New Zealand governments. Different roles are undertaken by local, state and national government, and international obligations are respected.

The Department of Health is actively involved in the food regulation system to ensure food is safe and suitable.

Australia and New Zealand food regulatory system

There are 2 agreements that underpin the food regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand.

  1. Agreement between the Governments of Australia and New Zealand concerning a Joint Food Standards System

    The purpose of this agreement is to adopt ‘a joint system for the development of food standards.

    This agreement was signed in 1995 and resulted in the introduction of the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code (external site) which by December 2002 was, and still remains, the sole set of food standards across the 2 countries.

    New Zealand is considered to be just like any other Australian State or Territory.

  2. Food Regulation Agreement (FRA) 2000 (as amended 2002 and 2008)

    The purpose of this agreement is to establish ‘a national approach to food regulation within Australia’.

    The Food Regulation Agreement (external site) promotes a cooperative approach to food regulation, where the responsibility for food safety is across all levels of government, and considers ways of reducing the regulatory burden on the food sector.

Food Standards regulation committees

The Department of Health is represented on or provides policy support for several national food safety committees which work towards a consistent approach to the implementation and enforcement of food regulations and standards throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as discuss and agree upon an approach to addressing various food matters. These include:

Committee Role
Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum) – Policy development (external site) The Forum signs off on all food standards and can also request that a draft standard be developed, reviewed, amended or reject a draft standard.

Forum membership is designed to reflect the whole-of-food chain approach to food regulation. Members include the following:

  • Minister from New Zealand
  • Ministers from the Australian Government
  • Health Ministers from the Australian States and Territories
  • Ministers from related portfolios (Primary Industries, Consumer Affairs) where they have been nominated by their jurisdictions
  • The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), who participates as an observer.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) (external site) Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is a statutory authority in the Australian Government Health portfolio. FSANZ develops food standards for Australia and New Zealand

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is an independent statutory agency established by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (FSANZ Act).

FSANZ develops standards that regulate the use of ingredients, processing aids, colourings, additives, vitamins and minerals. The Food Standards Code also covers the composition of some foods, such as dairy, meat and beverages as well as foods developed by new technologies such as genetically modified foods. FSANZ are also responsible for some labelling requirements for packaged and unpackaged food, and develops Australia-only primary production and processing standards

Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) (external site) FRSC is a group of senior public officials that coordinate policy advice to the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum of Food Regulation (Forum)

The Director of Environmental Health Directorate represents the Western Australian Department of Health on this committee.

The primary objective of FRSC is supporting a nationally consistent approach in the implementation and enforcement of food standards.

The FRSC is supported in its role by the Implementation Sub Committee for Food Regulation.

Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR) Implementation and enforcement (external site) The Implementation Subcommittee (ISFR) is a subcommittee of the FRSC.

Its role is to work towards a consistent approach to the implementation and enforcement of food regulations and standards throughout Australia.

The ISFR periodically publishes the Summary of Meeting Outcomes (external site) from their half yearly meetings as part of its engagement with local government.

How the food regulatory system works

There are 3 key functions of the food regulation system:

  • policy development
  • standard setting
  • implementation.

Policy development

Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Forum) is responsible for:

  • the development of domestic food regulation policy
  • developing policy guidelines
  • setting the domestic food standards.

The Forum also has the ability to accept, amend or reject food safety legislation.

The Forum is supported by the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) which ensures a nationally consistent approach to the implementation and enforcement of food safety legislation.

Standard setting

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is an independent authority responsible for developing, reviewing and amending food standards. The Forum can request, or FSANZ can raise, a proposal its self, or individuals and organisations can make an application for the development, review or amendment of food standards.

Implementation

The Implementation Subcommittee of Food Regulation supports the Food Regulation Standing Committee in its role of ensuring nationally consistent approaches to the implementation and enforcement of the food safety legislation.

Last reviewed: 15-10-2020
Produced by

Environmental Health Directorate