Call for comment on a new type of genetically modified corn

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an Application to allow food from a new type of genetically modified corn line in the Food Standards Code.
 
FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the corn line has been genetically modified to be resistant to a range of herbicides.  
 
“When assessing any Applications to approve a new food or ingredients, our number one priority is making sure it’s safe and doesn’t pose a risk to the health of Australian and New Zealand consumers.”
 
“FSANZ undertook a full safety assessment which looked at the transferred genetic material, its stability, novel protein in the food, as well as the composition of the food and an evaluation of intended and unintended changes.
 
“FSANZ found that the corn derived from this GM line is as safe as traditional non-GM corn,” Mr Booth said.
 
The GM corn is intended to be used in products such as starch, grits, meal, flour, oil and sweeteners (corn syrups).
 
Any foods made from this product must be labelled as ‘genetically modified’ where novel DNA and/or protein is present in the final food.
 
The period for comment closes 6:00pm (Canberra time) 21 May 2020.

All FSANZ decisions are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation who can request a review of the decision. 

Call for comment on food safety management tools for the food service industry

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on a discussion paper released today on additional food safety management tools for the food service and retail sector.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the discussion paper is the first stage in a review of the food safety management standards in chapters 3 and 4 of the Food Standards Code.

“In June 2018 The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) noted the increase of foodborne illness outbreaks in Australia and agreed that there is a need to review food safety management for the food service and closely related retail sectors.

“FSANZ has started a Proposal to consider additional food safety management tools for these sectors.

“The discussion paper outlines potential ways to manage higher risk food handling activities in these sectors and is seeking comment from industry to help us better understand the gap between current practice and the proposed tools, including the costs and benefits to industry,” Mr Booth said.

Interested parties will have another opportunity to comment in the call for submissions which is expected later in the year.

The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) Friday 20 March 2020.

Call for comment on a new enzyme processing aid

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to permit a new enzyme processing aid from a genetically modified (GM) strain of Aspergillus niger.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the enzyme, glucoamylase, will be used as a processing aid in starch processing and the production of potable alcohol.

The production microorganism in this application has a long history of safe use as a source of enzyme processing aids, including several already permitted in the Code.

“FSANZ has conducted a thorough risk assessment and concluded there are no public health or safety issues associated with the use of this type enzyme,” Mr Booth said.

The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) 24 March 2020.

All FSANZ decisions on applications are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation who can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.

Call for comment on a new processing aid

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to use enzyme alpha-amylase from a genetically modified strain of Aspergillus as a processing aid.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said that the enzyme would be used as a processing aid for starch processing and the production of potable alcohol.

“As the enzyme will be used as a processing aid, it is not present in the final food.”

“FSANZ has undertaken a risk assessment and found no health or safety concerns associated with the preparation produced using the specified enzyme processing aid,” Mr Booth said.

“I encourage all interested stakeholders to provide comments by 6pm (Canberra time) 24 March 2020,” Mr Booth said.

When preparing proposals to change the Food Standards Code, FSANZ follows legislated requirements set out in the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991. All FSANZ decisions on proposals are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation who can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.

Call for comment on primary production and Processing Requirements for high-risk horticulture

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on a proposal to develop a primary production and processing standard for high-risk horticulture.

FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said the proposal is looking specifically at primary production and processing activities in three sectors: leafy vegetables, melons, and berries as there are currently no consistent, national regulatory food safety requirements applied to these.

 FSANZ will assess if sprouts and ready-to-eat minimally processed fruits and vegetables, which are currently covered by existing standards in the Code, need further consideration in future work on the review of Chapters 3 and 4.

 “The vast majority of horticultural produce in Australia is safe and healthy, however outbreaks linked to particular produce sectors continue to occur.

 “At the request of ministers responsible for food regulation, FSANZ is reassessing the need to amend the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) to enact a primary production and processing standard to manage food safety for high-risk horticulture.

 “This is the first of two public rounds of consultation. This initial round of consultation is seeking information from stakeholders to help us better understand these high-risk sectors and whether a regulatory approach is required – including what that regulation might look like.

 “We are also establishing a Standard Development Advisory Group consisting of representatives from industry peak bodies and government regulators to assist with and advise on the current work.

 The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) Wednesday 18 March 2020.

 

Call for comment on soy leghemoglobin permission

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application by Impossible Foods Inc. to permit soy leghemoglobin in meat analogue products that is produced using a genetically modified strain of yeast.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said soy leghemoglobin is a protein naturally present in the roots of soybean plants that is not currently consumed in the diets of Australians and New Zealanders.

“The applicant uses an original method of production where the genetically modified yeast is fermented to express soy leghemoglobin.

“Impossible Foods is proposing to use soy leghemoglobin in its plant-based meat analogue products including meatballs, sausage, or as fillings in buns and dumplings.

“The purpose of this haem-containing ingredient is to impart ‘meat-like characteristics’ by replicating the flavour, smell of meat and as a source of iron.

“These products are currently sold overseas in the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.

“FSANZ has undertaken a risk and technical assessment which found no public health and safety concerns associated with its intended use.

“Interested parties are invited to have their say on the application by 6pm Canberra Time 14 February 2020,” Mr Booth said.

This is the first call for submissions on the application. FSANZ will consider feedback and a second round of public consultation will be undertaken in 2020.

All FSANZ decisions on applications are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation who can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.

Final Report – Review of food derived using new breeding techniques

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today released the Final Report on its review of food derived using new breeding techniques (NBTs).

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the Final Report is the result of a significant amount of work by FSANZ, including extensive consultation with stakeholders and the community on whether the current definitions in the Code for genetically modified foods are fit for purpose given recent advancements in genetic technologies.

“The Review found that while there are diverse views in the community about the safety and regulation of food derived from NBTs, many agreed the current definitions are no longer fit for purpose and lack clarity,” Mr Booth said.

“Based on these findings, FSANZ will prepare a proposal to amend the definitions in the Code in the New Year.

“The Proposal will look at options to strengthen current regulations and make it clearer which foods should be subject to pre-market safety assessment by FSANZ.

“As with all Proposals to amend the Code, FSANZ will consult with stakeholders and the community to ensure they can have their say.

“We understand this is an area where stakeholders have different views and concerns so communication and engagement will be a big part of our consultation process.

“I’d like to thank all of the stakeholders who contributed to the final review and its recommendations,” Mr Booth said.

Call for submissions on changes to maximum residue limits

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

​(Australia only)

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has called for submissions on a proposal to change maximum residue limits (MRLs) for some agricultural and veterinary chemicals.

FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said that some of the proposed changes would align limits in the Food Standards Code with overseas limits, while others have been proposed by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

“MRLs are determined based on how much of a chemical is needed to control pests and/or diseases and are set well below the level that could pose health and safety risks to consumers”, Mr Booth said.

“FSANZ has assessed the proposal and concluded there are no public health and safety concerns relating to the changes.”

All FSANZ decisions on standards are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation. Ministers can decide to adopt, amend, or reject standards or they can ask for a review.

The closing date for submissions for M1017 is 6pm Canberra time 24 January 2020.

Second call for comment – Plain English Allergen Labelling

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today released a second call for comment on a proposal to make allergen information clearer, more consistent and prominent on food labels.

 FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said the Plain English Allergen Labelling Proposal (PEAL) reflects a significant amount of work undertaken by FSANZ, including a first round of public consultation in 2018.

 “Our first call for comment showed broad support for changes to make sure that allergen labelling is clear and in plain English and consumers have the information they need to make informed and safe food choices.

 “Based on this feedback, our second consultation paper includes draft amendments to the Food Standards Code.

 “Currently the Food Standards Code requires 11 foods which can cause severe reactions to be declared whenever they are present as an ingredient, food additive or processing aid.

 “However, there are no requirements about how and where the declarations must be made on packaging.

 “Our research identified that consumers often struggle to understand complex names used for allergenic ingredients such as ‘sodium caseinate’. This proposal would require the use of simpler language such as ‘milk’.

 “Consumer research also indicated that having labels in a prominent and consistent location on packaging would be beneficial. This proposal sets requirements for how and where allergen declarations are presented on packaging, including in bold font,” Mr Booth said.  

The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) Thursday 27 February 2020.

All FSANZ decisions on applications are notified to the ministers responsible for food regulation, who can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.

 

Call for comment on an urgent proposal to prohibit the retail sale of pure and highly concentrated caffeine products

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for public comment on an urgent Proposal to prohibit the retail sale of pure and highly concentrated caffeine food products in Australia and New Zealand.

The proposal follows a review conducted by FSANZ in August 2019 which found the availability of pure caffeine for retail sale poses an unacceptably high risk to consumers, and should be prohibited.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the urgent proposal reflects a significant amount of work, including a thorough risk assessment carried out by FSANZ over the past few months.

“Our risk assessment confirmed pure or highly purified forms of caffeine pose an unacceptably high risk to consumers. Ingestion of small amounts of these substances can result in severe health effects, including death,” Mr Booth said.

“In addition, the risk assessment has determined a maximum safe level for total caffeine in food should be set at less than 5% – unless there are existing permissions in the Code (i.e. energy drinks and cola drinks).

“Currently the Code does not expressly permit, prohibit or seek to regulate the retail sale of pure and highly concentrated caffeine food products generally,” Mr Booth said.

“We are seeking to amend this to provide increased protection to consumers following the tragic death of 21-year-old New South Wales man from acute caffeine toxicity.

“Noting the urgency of this proposal I encourage all interested stakeholders to provide comments by 6pm (Canberra time) 14 November 2019, particularly if there are any concerns regarding the unintended impacts,” Mr Booth added.

“This feedback will be used to determine next steps,” Mr Booth said.