Australia’s Food Importing Rules Need a Review

Should Australian food imports be held to the same food safety standards as local farmers and manufacturers?
September 12, 2018
By Jeff McAndrews

In August, Australian supermarkets recalled several brands of frozen vegetables imported from Europe. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported that the frozen vegetables accounted for nine deaths

The recalls have prompted some experts to question the Australian Government’s import policies, asking, whether the regulations we impose on importers are enough to protect the Australian public.

In a recent interview with Australian Food Safety News, Peter McRae, an importing and exporting specialist working with Platinum Freight Management, reminds us of Australia’s current food safety laws and why consumers and businesses need to advocate for change. Peter is quoted saying: 

We live in a global economy. Much of the food we buy now (and even more so in the future) will neither be grown nor packaged locally. Therefore much of what we will buy won’t necessarily be grown or packaged under the strict safety standards that Australian farmers and manufacturers must meet.

The Food Safety Laws Imposed on Importers

The food that Australians purchase from international sources is not always tested to the same standards that Australian farmers and manufacturers are held to meet. Unfortunately, most Australians don’t know this frightening fact. 

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) allows frozen food into Australia. DAWR states that it is the importer’s responsibility to meet the Australian New Zealand Standards Code for frozen vegetables. 

Currently, DAWR does not require importers to submit testing results. No one is holding importers accountable for meeting food safety standards. 

What’s the Solution? 

Some argue that the best solution is to purchase from local sources, as buying local means less risk. However, as Australia’s population continues to grow, more food is required. Imports will continue to be a source of food for Australians. 

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) needs to work with DAWR to perform tests before releasing food for consumers and businesses to purchase. As the global market strengthens, so too must the local rules that protect Australians.

Australian Food News originally published this story as Latest Food Recalls Show Need for Better Importing Rules