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.

Consumer alert Core Powerfoods frozen meals

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is advising consumers who have purchased CORE Powerfoods frozen meals to check their freezers for recalled products that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the company had initiated a precautionary recall of a range of meals after reports of illness among people who are believed to have consumed the products.

Public health investigations have found that 51 people across NSW, QLD, SA, WA and ACT, with a particular type of Salmonella, reported eating these products. The investigation is ongoing.

 The following products with a Best Before date of 05/03/2020 to 04/10/2020 have been recalled:

  • Going Nuts
  • Deep South Chilli
  • Muay Thai Meatballs
  • Holy Meatballs
  • Naked Chicken
  • Seismic Chicken
  • Old School
  • Smokey Mountain Meatballs.

The products have been available for sale at IGA’s and Coles nationally, Independent retailers in NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC, SA, NT and WA, and a small number of Woolworths metro stores in VIC.

The cause of the contamination is still under investigation.

 Mr Booth said consumers who have purchased these meals should throw any affected products away or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

 “Salmonella bacteria can pose serious health risks. Symptoms of infection can include fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, headaches, stomach cramps and loss of appetite.

“More severe symptoms can occur in young children, older people, pregnant women and people who have weakened immune systems, and may lead to hospitalisation.

“Food must be cooked thoroughly to kill Salmonella bacteria. Frozen food should always be cooked thoroughly following manufacturer instructions. Microwaves are a quick and convenient way to cook food, however, if they are not used correctly, they can cook food unevenly. 

 “When using a microwave to cook food, make sure the food is heated until it is piping hot all the way through,” Mr Booth said. 

 Consumers who have eaten these meals and are concerned about their health should see a doctor.

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Call for submissions on proposed pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic beverages

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for public comment on the proposed design and implementation of a mandatory pregnancy warning label for packaged alcoholic beverages.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the draft warning label reflects a significant amount of work and research carried out by FSANZ over the last year.

“The draft warning label features a pictogram and a statement to alert women to the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy as well as to raise awareness in the broader community,” Mr Booth said. 

“The design process involved a review of existing evidence on the design of warning labels, including features that attract consumer attention.

“We also undertook consumer testing of the warning statement, specifically targeting women of child-bearing age in Australia and New Zealand to provide input.”

Mr Booth said the labels are intended to become a mandatory requirement on all packaged alcoholic beverages containing more than 1.15% alcohol by volume to promote the health and safety of unborn children through pregnancy.

“I encourage all interested stakeholders to provide comments by 6pm (Canberra time) 27 October 2019,” Mr Booth said.

Call for submissions – A1171 – Endo-inulinase from GM Aspergillus Oryzae as a PA (Enzyme)

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

​​​​Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to permit a new processing aid in the Food Standards Code.

FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said the enzyme – endo-inulinase – is produced by a genetically modified (GM) strain of Aspergillus oryzae. 

“The applicant is seeking permission to use the enzyme to help produce fructo-oligosaccharides (or FOS, which can be added to a range of processed foods as a sugar alternative, low calorie bulking agent, and for dietary fibre supplementation).” 

“FSANZ has undertaken a thorough safety assessment and concluded there are no public health or safety issues related to the use of this enzyme,” Mr Booth said.

The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) on 17 October 201​9.​

Call for submissions – Application A1171

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

​​​Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application to permit a new processing aid in the Food Standards Code.

FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said the enzyme – endo-inulinase – is produced by a genetically modified (GM) strain of Aspergillus oryzae. 

“The applicant is seeking permission to use the enzyme to help produce fructo-oligosaccharides (or FOS, which can be added to a range of processed foods as a sugar alternative, low calorie bulking agent, and for dietary fibre supplementation).” 

“FSANZ has undertaken a thorough safety assessment and concluded there are no public health or safety issues related to the use of this enzyme,” Mr Booth said.

The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) on 17 October 201​9.​

Call for comment – enzymatic production of steviol glycosides

Source: Australia and New Zealand Food Standards

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today called for comment on an application to permit a new enzymatic conversion method to produce steviol glycosides.

FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said the method uses three enzymes derived from genetically modified strains of Escherichia coli K-12.

“The applicant is seeking permission to use this to method produce higher amounts of steviol glycosides – a sweetener extracted from Stevia leaves which is used as an intense sweetener.

“FSANZ has undertaken a thorough safety assessment and concluded there are no public health safety issues related to the steviol glycoside preparations,” Mr Booth said.

The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) 08 October 2019.

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.