Today I spoke to a new client who has been busy developing her product for the last 2 years. A food consultant has assisted her, she has a contract packer ready to make her food product and is now ready to sit down with her designer to create the labels.
As she was explaining her call for help, the anguish she has been through and the product development roller coaster she had been riding, she became teary and sounded down right exhausted. The overwhelm of the process had taken its toll.
And one of the things that she said stuck in my mind. She told me that only last week she discovered that Food Standards Code existed.
She felt like such a fool to spend 2 years developing a product and not know about the food regulations and food laws to comply to.
I realised that there must be many more food entrepreneurs and food startups in the same situation.
Lets start right back at the beginning…
Australia food regulations
Australia and New Zealand have a joint food regulation system which consists of laws, policies, standards and processes that ensure sure our food is safe to eat.
Food laws cover a range of food issues including labelling, composition and food handling requirements. While consumer protection laws (ACCC) require information about food, food labels and food marketing to be truthful and not misleading.
The food industry is subject to regulations outlined in the:
- Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSANZ) – food standards
- Food Act – safe handling of food governed by each state or territory
- Food Regulation 2015 – food safety schemes & requirements for high risk industry sectors
Other laws which relate to food and promotion and packaging are enforced by other agencies including:
- Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cwlth) – enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
- Fair Trading Act 1987 (NSW) – enforced by the NSW Fair Trading
- weights and measures – enforced by the National Measurement Institute
Lets dig a little deeper….
Developed by Australia New Zealand Food Standards (FSANZ) the Food Standards Code includes standards for food products, food additives, food safety, labelling and foods that need pre-approval such as genetically modified foods.
I created this infographic to simplify the 4 chapters of the Code.
Lets take a look
Introduction and standards that apply to all foods.
- labelling requirements
- nutrition information panels
- nutrition and health claims
- food additives, vitamins & minerals, processing aids
- safety of materials in contact with food
- permissions for new foods
- limits for chemical and microbiological contaminants
- maximum residue limits of veterinary and chemical residues
These food standards prescribe the compositional requirements for specific foods such as:
- Cereals and cereal product
- Meat, eggs and fish
- Fruit and vegetables
- Edible oils
- Milk, cream, cheese, fermented milk products, butter, icecream
- Dried milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk
- Fruit juice and vegetable juice
- Non-alcoholic beverages and brewed soft drinks
- Formulated caffeinated beverages
- Beer, fruit wine, vegetable wine and mead, wine and spirits
- Sugars and honey
- Infant formula products
- Food for infants
- Formulated meal replacements and formulated supplementary foods
- Formulated supplementary sports foods
- Food for special medical purposes
Food safety standards includes requirements for food handlers wherever food is sold and applies only in Australia e.g. good food safety practices such as training staff, keeping food at the correct temperature, washing hands and keeping equipment clean.
- Food safety programs
- Food safety practices and general requirements
- Food premises and equipment
Primary production standards (only apply in Australia).
Includes primary production and processing standards for agricultural commodities such as:
- poultry meat
- specific cheeses
- dairy products
Who enforcers the Food Standards?
In Australia, compliance with the Code for all foods is monitored by authorities in the states and territories.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for the inspection and sampling of imported food.
Need to know more?
I’ve added a link here to the FSANZ User Guide to Labelling which gives an overview of food label regulations.
For more detailed information on each Food Standard click here
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I’d love to hear your thoughts. Contact me here
This is general information rather than regulatory advice. We therefore recommend you seek further advice that takes into account your particular ingredients, products, processing, packaging and other circumstances before making commercial decisions for your business.