New requirements for allergen labelling on packaged foods

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

​​Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today announced new requirements for allergen labelling on packaged foods. 

The changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) will help ensure mandatory food allergen declarations are clear and consistent so that consumers have the information they need to make safe food choices. 

The requirements include:

  • the declaration of allergen information in a specific format and location on food labels
  • the use of simple, plain English terms for allergen declarations.   

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the new requirements take effect from today following gazettal in the Code. 

“The Code requires certain foods or substances to be declared on labels when they are present in food. 

“These foods or substances can cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis in some people.  

“The changes will help consumers to read and interpret allergen information more quickly and easily.  

“This is good news for anyone with a food allergy and will assist people to make informed and safe food choices. 

“From today, businesses have a 3 year transition period to comply with the new requirements.”  

During the transition period, food businesses can comply with either the existing allergen declaration requirements in the Code, or the new requirements. 

Any food packaged and labelled before the end of the transition period under existing allergen declaration requirements may be sold for up to 2 years after the end of the transition period. 

Have your say on proposed changes to maximum residue limits

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today released its annual call for comment on proposed changes to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for some agricultural and veterinary chemicals in food.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said requests to align around 130 chemicals with international limits set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and other international food standards agencies are being considered.

‘This includes changes requested by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to align with revised chemical uses in Australia.

‘For the first time we implemented a new process to routinely consider MRLs adopted by Codex in 2019 without the need for separate requests from stakeholders.

‘Aligning MRLs with international limits supports Australian food imports.

‘MRLs can only be changed if there is no concern to public health and safety. Our dietary assessment of the requested changes found no health and safety concerns for Australian consumers,’ Mr Booth said.

The public call for comment closes 6pm (Canberra time) 16 March 2021.

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Call for comment on a new source for an enzyme processing aid

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to allow an already approved enzyme processing aid to be produced from a new source.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the enzyme (maltogenic alpha-amylase) has a long history of safe use and is already approved to be sourced from a genetically modified (GM) bacterium known as Bacillus subtilis.

‘The manufacturer has applied to FSANZ to produce the enzyme from a different GM strain of yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

‘If approved, the enzyme would be used as a processing aid in the manufacture of bakery products to improve shelf life.

‘FSANZ has completed a safety assessment and found the enzyme to be safe and suitable for use in food,’ Mr Booth said.

To have your say, see our call for comment page. Submissions close 6pm (Canberra time) 10 March 2021.

What happens with my feedback?

All public submissions are published to our website as soon as possible after the end of the public comment period.

We will consider all feedback received through this public consultation process before making a decision on whether to approve the application.

FSANZ’s decision will be notified to ministers responsible for food regulation who can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.

Call for comment for food from herbicide-tolerant canola

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 genetically modified (GM) canola.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the canola (MON94100) has been genetically modified to be protected from the herbicide dicamba.

‘This type of canola is primarily used to produce oil which would be manufactured overseas and imported into Australia and New Zealand.

‘Other processed foods such as canola meal may also potentially be imported,’ Mr Booth said.

The application is the first to be accepted under a safety assessment sharing arrangement between FSANZ and Health Canada.

‘The new arrangement involves the joint preparation and sharing of a single food safety assessment which is then used by each agency in making their own separate and independent assessment and decision on whether to allow the canola,’ Mr Booth said.

‘For this canola, the food safety assessment was initially prepared by Health Canada and then reviewed by FSANZ to ensure it meets all relevant requirements for Australian and New Zealand purposes.

‘Our assessment found no potential public health and safety concerns and this canola is as safe as food from non-GM canola varieties.

‘To help people make informed choices about the food they buy, food from this canola would need to be labelled as ‘genetically modified’ if there was any novel DNA and/or novel proteins from the corn in the final food.’

To have your say, see our call for comment page. Submissions close at 6pm (Canberra time) 1 March 2021.

What happens with my feedback?

Submissions will be published to our website as soon as possible after the end of the public comment period.

We will consider all feedback received through this submission process before making a decision on whether to approve the application.

FSANZ’s decision will be 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 new processing aid

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to allow an already approved enzyme processing aid to be produced from a new genetically modified (GM) source.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the enzyme (subtilisin) is derived from a GM strain of Bacillus licheniformis. This microorganism has a long history of safe use and is already approved as a source microorganism in the Food Standards Code.

“If approved, the enzyme would be used as a processing aid in the production of potable alcohol.

“We have undertaken a safety assessment and found that there are no health and safety concerns,” Mr Booth said.

To have your say, see our call for comment page. Submissions closes at 6pm (Canberra time) 27 January 2021.

What happens with my feedback?

Submissions will be published to our website as soon as possible after the end of the public comment period.

FSANZ will consider all feedback received through this submission process before making a decision on whether to approve the application.

FSANZ’s decision will be 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 irradiation of fruits and vegetables

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is calling for comment on an application to irradiate fresh fruit and vegetables.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has applied for permission to irradiate fresh fruit and vegetables as a way to stop the spread of pests like fruit fly when food is moved across quarantine borders.

“Fruit fly is an ongoing threat to the horticulture industry, both here in Australia, New Zealand and internationally.

“Australian quarantine laws mean food produced in an area where there are known pests, must be treated before they can be sent internationally or to states or territories that have quarantine restrictions.  

“Irradiation has a long history of safe use and is used in many countries around the world as a safe way to treat fresh fruits and vegetables.

“In Australia and New Zealand, food can only be irradiated for a specific purpose, like to make it safer for people to eat or for quarantine purposes.

“Only a small proportion of fresh fruit and vegetables are likely to be irradiated as the majority of fresh produce in Australia and New Zealand is grown and sold in the same quarantine jurisdiction.

“There are already 26 fruits and vegetables allowed to be irradiated in the Food Standards Code.

“We completed a thorough safety assessment for this application, looking at the potential toxicological and nutritional impacts and found no public health and safety concerns . Any nutrient losses that may occur are likely to be minimal.

“To help consumers make informed choices about the food they buy, there are labelling requirements for any food that has been irradiated,” Mr Booth said.

The public consultation period closes 6pm (Canberra time) 11 December 2020.

Call for comment on an enzyme processing aid

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to allow an existing enzyme processing aid to be produced from a new source in the Food Standards Code.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the applicant is seeking approval to produce the enzyme – beta-amylase, from soybeans.

“If approved, the processing aid will be used in the production of maltose syrup (a type of sweetener that is added to food).

“After undertaking a risk assessment, we found no safety concerns from using this new source of beta-amylase which has a long history of safe use.

“As this processing aid will be used at low levels, we found it is either not present in the final food or present in insignificant quantities,” Mr Booth said.

To have your say, see our call for comment page. Submissions close at 6pm (Canberra time) 8 December 2020

What happens with my feedback?

Submissions will be published to our website as soon as possible after the end of the public comment period.

FSANZ will consider all feedback received through this submission process before making a decision on whether to approve the application.

FSANZ’s decision will be 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 new type of sweetener

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to allow an existing sweetener (steviol glycoside) from a new source in the Food Standards Code.

Acting FSANZ CEO Dr Sandra Cuthbert said the steviol glycoside is similar to a range of other steviol glycosides already permitted for use as a food additive in the Food Standards Code but uses a different method of production.

“If approved, this steviol glycoside would be used as a low-calorie sweetener in a range of food products.

“Steviol glycosides are a type of intense sweetener sourced from the South American plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (stevia), but can also be produced by different methods.

“FSANZ has conducted a thorough safety assessment and found no public health or safety concerns with this type of steviol glycoside,” Dr Cuthbert said.

The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) 2 December 2020.

What happens to my feedback?

Submissions will be published to our website as soon as possible after the end of the public comment period.

We will consider all feedback received through this submission process before making a decision on whether to approve the application.

FSANZ’s decision will be 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 type of glazing agent for fresh fruit and vegetables

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an Application to extend the use of an already approved additive as a glazing agent for fruit and vegetables.

Acting FSANZ CEO Glen Neal said the additive: mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids is already approved for use in the Food Standards Code for a range of other foods.

“This Application is seeking to extend the current permissions in the Code to use the additive as a glazing agent on fresh fruits and vegetables as a way to extend the shelf life.”

“The food additive is already allowed to be used as a glazing agent for fruits and vegetables in a number of countries including; Chile, China, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, Peru and the United States.”

“FSANZ conducted a safety assessment and found no concerns about the safety of this additive as a glazing agent for consumers,” Mr Neal said.

To have your say, see our call for comment page – submissions close at 6pm (Canberra time) 15 October 2020.

What happens to my feedback?

Submissions will be published to our website as soon as possible after the end of the public comment period.

We will consider all feedback received through this submission process before making a decision on whether to approve the Application.

FSANZ’s decision will be 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 type of food additive

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

​​​Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an Application to allow a new type of additive under the Food Standards Code.​

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the additive is sourced from a particular type of mushroom called ‘sweet osmanthus ear’, if approved, it would be used to preserve non-alcoholic drinks.

“Extracts from the mushroom (known as jelly mushroom glycolipids) are used to protect food from common yeasts, moulds and bacteria that may grow over time.

“We carried out a safety assessment and found it is safe for use based on the proposed maximum permitted levels the Application calls for.

“To help people make informed choices about their food, mandatory labelling requirements apply and this food additive will need to be declared on the ingredients list,” Mr Booth said.

​ To have your say, see our call for comment page – submissions closes at 6pm (Canberra time) 17 September 2020.

What happens to my feedback?

Submissions will be published to our website as soon as possible after the end of the public comment period.

We will consider all feedback received through this submission process before making a decision on whether to approve the application.

FSANZ’s decision will be notified to ministers responsible for food regulation who can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.