The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment has awarded Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) a grant of $492,495 to establish an international food safety forum. The initial members of the forum, currently titled the Multilateral Food Safety Forum, will include Australia, China, Japan, Singapore and the Republic of Korea.
The forum aims to bring together these countries from the Asia-Pacific region to work on food safety projects, create international regulatory standards and collaborate on projects between countries with two-way trade.
“By bringing these countries together, FSANZ will organise collaboration between food safety agencies across countries,” says David Hazlehurst, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. “The forum will aim to find areas where different countries can work together on food safety projects that promote science and risk-based approaches, are consistent with international standards, and benefit trade. This forum will also mean FSANZ can work with other countries on projects that support two-way trade between markets.”
FSANZ plans to update produce regulations
The agency is also planning to introduce updated regulatory and non-regulatory measures on-farm and during initial processing to help improve food safety management for the berry, leafy vegetable and melon industries, with the aim to decrease rates of food-borne illness.
Amendments would be made to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to add a primary production and processing standard for the three industries, with guidance to be developed to help businesses understand and comply with the new rules.
FSANZ considered a variety of factors when assessing the options for each industry:
- food safety risks
- costs of food-borne illness
- coverage of existing industry schemes
- absence of a national approach
- cost-benefit analysis
- first round of consultation submissions
“The food safety management measures included in the draft proposed standards would align with those in existing industry food safety schemes, to support cost-effective implementation by businesses already participating in such schemes,” says FSANZ interim CEO Sandra Cuthbert. “Should the proposed draft standards be introduced, they would create a level playing field for businesses in managing food safety and further strengthen consumer confidence in the safety of this fresh produce.”