Changes to the Food Code: FSANZ seeks public comment

The bi-national food agency Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today announced that it is contemplating changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code– regulations that cover the content, labelling, handling and sale of food in the two countries.

Among the issues under consideration are the use of cholesterol-lowering phytosterols in a low-fat yoghurt mini-drink, a new genetically modified corn variety, and new processing aids for beer production and wine.

Consumers, public health professionals, government agencies, the food industry and other interested parties can access the background reports to these issues from FSANZ at and have until 2 May 2007 to comment on the work.

Food derived from insect-protected corn MON 89034 (Application A595 – Initial Assessment)

Monsanto Australia Ltd wants FSANZ to amend the Food Standard Code to approve food derived from a genetically modified (GM) corn, MON 89034, that has been modified to provide protection against major insect pests. Protection is conferred by expression of two insecticidal proteins, Cry1A.105 and Cry2Ab2 in the corn crop. All GM foods must undergo a pre-market safety assessment before they can be sold in Australia and New Zealand. We hope public discussion will assist us to identify affected parties and the relevant issues necessary to complete assessment of the application.

Vegetable oil phytosterol esters in low-fat yoghurt mini-drinks (Application A596 – Initial Assessment)

Unilever Australasia has applied for permission to use phytosterol esters derived from vegetable oils in low-fat yoghurt mini-drinks, containing 2 grams of free phytosterols in a single serve product. Daily consumption of 1-3 grams of phytosterols can produce a cholesterol-lowering effect. Currently, phytosterol esters can be used in edible oils spreads, breakfast cereal, low-fat milk and low-fat yoghurt at a level that provides 0.8 to 1.0 grams of free phytosterols per serve. We would like input from the community on this application, including suggestions for any labelling statements on these fortified drinking yoghurts.

Agarose resin as a processing aid for beer (Application A600 – Initial Assessment)

Lion Nathan and GE Health Care Bioscience AB are seeking permission for a new agarose- based ion-exchange resin to be used to stabilise beer. The resin achieves this by selectively reducing the concentration of undesirable haze and particulate forming proteins and polyphenols in the treated beer by adsorbing them on the resin. The resin is approved and used to treat beer in the United States, Germany and Russia. At this stage of our assessment, we would welcome advice on the potential benefits and costs to various stakeholder groups.

Maximum residue limits (Australia only) (Application A591 – Initial/Draft Assessment)

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has applied to FSANZ seeking to amend maximum residue limits (MRLs) for a number of chemicals in the Code. We have reviewed the estimated dietary exposure assessments for this application and have determined that the residues associated with the proposed MRLs do not present any public health and safety concerns.

Copper citrate as a processing aid for wine (Australia only) (Application A562 – Draft Assessment)

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia has applied for permission to use copper citrate, in forms other than on a bentonite base, as a processing aid in the production of wine. Processing aids must undergo a pre-market safety assessment by FSANZ before being offered for sale in Australia and New Zealand. Copper citrate is used to remove sulphides, particularly hydrogen sulphide from wine, and is then filtered out. We have concluded that copper citrate, when used as described by the applicant, fulfils a specific technological purpose and that it raises no public health and safety concerns. We would welcome the views of wine producers and consumers.

Submissions: FSANZ welcomes public comment from industry, public health professionals, government agencies and consumers. Details of all the assessments above can be found on .

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