April / May Update and Highlights

Reproduced with permission of Food Standards Australia New Zealand



New advice for Mercury in fish

FSANZ Update – FSANZ Restructures to meet stakeholder needs and meet the new executive appointees

Closer ties between Food Regulator and the ACCC

FSANZ Seminar series looks at allergens

An update on Nutrition, Health and Related Claims

Australia and New Zealand sign treaty to regulate medicines & therapeutic products

Poultry meat SDC begins work

Coming up in Food Surveillance News

Food Recalls

Stakeholder Forum in Wellington, New Zealand

AUSNUT Special Edition 3 – now available

FSANZ’s work in the Asia Pacific Region continues

2003 FSANZ Staff Achievement Award

Nutrient Data From Food Manufacturers Wanted - FSANZ’s New Food Composition Publication


An update on Nutrition, Health and Related Claims

In December 2003, the Australia New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (Council) agreed to a new Nutrition, Health and Related Claims framework. The framework will guide Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) in the development of the standard for inclusion in theFood Standards Code.

At present, nutrient content claims are allowed (eg‘this food is high in fibre’), as are some health maintenance claims (eg ‘calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth’). However, there is a prohibition on all other types of claims, with the exception of claims about the benefit of maternal consumption of folate , to prevent neural tube defects in developing foetuses.

The new framework proposes a significant and positive change for industry, with a wide range of claims permitted. Commercial success for new food products that promote good health relies upon informing consumers of such benefits. This framework, whilst ensuring public health and safety, will enable further innovation in the food industry.

The claims classification framework sets out criteria for two levels of claims: general and high. General level claims are those where the manufacturer has to make an assessment of the evidence supporting the claim prior to the product going to market, and to hold the evidence. These risk claims will be regulated through a Guideline, which will include Rules of Evidence for manufacturers to follow. General level claims do not reference a serious disease and will not be subject to pre-market approval by FSANZ.

High-level claims are those claims that make reference to a serious disease and will be pre-approved by FSANZ, with approved claims being listed in the standard.

Confidence in the framework is given to industry and consumers by building in a number of safeguards to ensure that all claims are true, scientifically substantiated and not misleading. These include, for example, requirements that:

A business must gather appropriate evidence for a proposed claim prior to going to market, regardless of whether the claims is general or high level.

Claims will have to be made in the context of the total diet, with consumers advised to seek the supervision of a health care professional where necessary.

A ‘watchdog’ under the auspice of the Council, will monitor compliance with the new arrangements.
Though Council is still considering the aspects of the framework in regard to biomarkers, FSANZ will now begin work to develop the standard for inclusion in the Food Standards Code and the Guideline for General Level Claims. To view the Nutrition, Health and Related Claims framework, visit www.foodsecretariat.health.gov.au . To stay updated on the development of the standard, including participation in the consultative process, visit the FSANZ website at www.foodstandards.gov.au.

It is expected that Ministers will finalise the Policy Guideline in May, when they consider options in relation to streamlining the process for pre-market assessment and verification of biomarker maintenance claims. FSANZ will then develop the draft standard for Nutrition, Health and Related Claims. Like all standard development work conducted by FSANZ, this will be an open process involving two rounds of public consultation and working closely with an external Technical Group and a Standard Development Advisory Committee which will include representatives from consumer groups, health professionals, enforcement agencies and the food industry. The first round of public consultation is likely to commence in August 2004. It is anticipated that the second round of consultation will be held from late May 2005 and the FSANZ Board will consider a final assessment report in December 2005.


Australia and New Zealand sign treaty to regulate medicines & therapeutic products

The Australian and New Zealand Governments recently signed a Treaty in Wellington to establish a single, bi-national agency to regulate therapeutic products, including medical devices and prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines.

The single agency will replace the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe). It will be accountable to both the Australian and New Zealand Governments and is expected to commence operation in 2005.

'The signing of this Treaty demonstrates a strong commitment by both countries to the continuation of our long-standing relationship and is a further step in the development of a more integrated trans-Tasman economy,' New Zealand Health Minister, Annette King, said at the signing ceremony today.

'It is particularly fitting that this decision should be taken in the 20th anniversary year of the commencement of the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Agreement.'

Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Trish Worth, said the Treaty was an historic step in regulatory arrangements between Australia and New Zealand.

'The joint regulatory scheme and its administration by a single joint agency represents a significant advance in trans-Tasman regulatory co-operation and will effectively integrate the therapeutic products regulatory systems of both countries, comprising an unprecedented level of international co-operation,' Ms Worth said.

The Treaty sets out the governance and accountability arrangements for the new agency, and how it is to be established. It also provides a framework for the joint regulatory scheme for therapeutic products.

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