Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today released details of proposed changes to the Food Standards Code and invited comments from individuals and organisations with an interest in the regulation of food. Changes being considered include the levels of water allowed in wine, approval of food from genetically modified lucerne, a novel food sweetener, and the declaration on food labels of antioxidants in fats and oils.
In the financial year 2005-06, FSANZ amended 26 food standards in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – food regulations that apply to the sale of food in Australia and New Zealand. Usually, the public is given two opportunities to comment on each food matter. FSANZ acknowledges all submissions in a final report and provides details of its response to the issues raised. The closing date for submissions for the latest round of public comment is Wednesday 20 September 2006.
Declaration of antioxidants in fats and oils
(Application A555 – Initial Assessment)
The Food Intolerance Network has requested that the Food Standards Code be amended to require the declaration on food labels of antioxidants present in fats and oils, when such fats and oils are used as ingredients in foods. Currently, the Code provides an exemption from ingredient labelling for ingredients in compound ingredients (including food additives) when the compound ingredient comprises less than 5% of the final food. Under the proposed amendment, antioxidants in fats and oils, when used in compound ingredients, would be required to be declared at all times. We invite comment on this matter.
Nisin – extension of use as a food additive
(Application A565 – Initial Assessment)
Danisco Australia Pty Ltd is seeking FSANZ approval to extend the use of nisin as an antimicrobial preservative in processed meat products to a maximum level of 12.5 mg/kg in certain food categories. The applicant claims that although various antimicrobial preservatives are currently permitted for use in processed meat products (mainly nitrites/nitrates, and sorbic acid), they are not completely effective and spoilage is not uncommon. Views from the meat industry would be especially welcomed.
Prescribed name for wine products
(Application 571 – Initial Assessment)
The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) wants to amend the Food Standards Code to define the term ‘wine based beverage’, to declare ‘wine based beverage’ as a prescribed name and to delete the current definition for wine product. WFA is concerned that the current definition for wine product can be misleading to consumers when used in combination with labelling the country of origin. The purpose of this round of public consultation is to make the material provided by WFA publicly available, assist in identifying the affected parties and outline the relevant issues necessary to complete assessment of the application.
Water use in wine making – amendment to permitted level
(Application A573 – Initial Assessment)
The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia is seeking permission to increase the amount of water that may be added to wine from 30 to 70 millilitres per litre, but to include the proviso that this level is only permitted where the addition is ‘in conformance with good manufacturing practice’. The applicant claims that this amendment would remove the potential for non-compliance and retain a maximum prescribed limit to prevent deliberate dilution. Views and comments from interested parties are welcomed.
Isomaltulose as a novel food
(Application A578 – Initial Assessment)
Palatinit GmbH has asked FSANZ to approve the use of isomaltulose as a novel food. Novel foods are non-traditional foods where there is insufficient evidence of safe human consumption in the community. They must undergo a pre-market safety assessment by FSANZ before they can be sold in Australia or New Zealand. Isomaltulose is a nutritive sweetener that is digested more slowly than sucrose. The applicant claims it can be used as a total or partial replacement for sucrose in certain food products. We invite comment on this application.
Maximum residue limits – Australia only
(Application A574 – Initial/Draft Assessment)
(Application A582 – 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. FSANZ has reviewed the estimated dietary exposure assessments for these applications. We have determined that the residues associated with the proposed MRLs do not present any public health and safety concerns.
Food derived from glyphosate-tolerant lucerne J101 and J163
(Application A575 – Draft Assessment)
We have received an application from Monsanto Australia Limited to approve food derived from genetically modified (GM) herbicide-tolerant lucerne lines J101 and J163. When used as food, lucerne is known as alfalfa. GM crops cannot be used in the food supply unless FSANZ has assessed their safety and approved their use for this purpose. We have carried out a safety assessment, including an examination of the potential toxicity and allergenicity of the novel protein. We have concluded that food derived from this GM lucerne is as safe and as wholesome as food derived from other lucerne varieties, and we welcome comment.
Submissions: FSANZ welcomes public comment from industry, public health professionals, government agencies and consumers. Details of all the assessments above can be found on http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/standardsdevelopment/documentsforpublicco868.cfm Submissions close on 20 September 2006.