Changes to food regulations will significantly improve the assessment and consultation procedures for new and amended food standards.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Brett Mason, said the amendments would make the regulation process more efficient, while improving consultation with stakeholders.
“The new arrangements recognise the changing environment for food safety and food innovation, while reducing red tape,” Senator Mason said. “The Australian Government is committed to food regulation that is transparent and accountable, while providing the greatest protection to consumers.”
Until now, Food Standards Australia New Zealand has been required to use a ‘one size fits all’ model for assessing applications to amend food standards, regardless of the scope of the proposed change. This has resulted, at times, in a significant backlog of applications.
Amendments to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991, passed in the last sitting of Federal Parliament and which became law this week (on July 1), remove this problem by allowing three different streams for applications, based on the level of complexity.
An appropriate amount of time and a corresponding level of public consultation will be introduced for each assessment stream. Although major changes to a food standard or the development of a new food standard will take up to 12 months, minor changes will now have to be processed within three months. Most changes to food standards will now take nine months, down from an average of around 16 months previously.
Senator Mason said the new process would apply to all applications received from October 1.