Tasman neighbours mull beverage law changes

Australia and New Zealand are rethinking their recently introduced Food Standards Code after an anomaly was highlighted with regard to the manufacture and sale of formulated beverages.

Currently, formulated beverages such as soft drinks with added vitamins and minerals can be manufactured in New Zealand but not in Australia. Yet under the auspices of the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement, those same NZ-made products can be sold in Australia, to the disadvantage of Australian manufacturers.

The two countries' official food agency, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), has agreed to hear public submissions following an application by the Australasian Soft Drink Association to create a harmonised set of regulations for these drinks between Australia and New Zealand.

FSANZ managing director Ian Lindenmayer said the application sought permission to add vitamins and minerals to formulated beverages at levels currently permitted in the Code for most other foods.

"We will be looking at the exposure of consumers to these vitamins and minerals from all sources, whether any vulnerable groups within the community would be adversely affected, and the use of formulated beverages in other foods," Lindenmayer said. "Finally, we want advice on whether FSANZ should treat formulated beverages as a general-purpose food or as having a supplemental purpose similar to food-type dietary supplements."

Lindenmayer added the FSANZ was also reviewing dietary supplements regulations.

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