The Food Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) says it accepts the advice from the Food Regulation Standards Committee (FRSC) on the regulatory requirements of foods produced by cell culture and precision fermentation, which found the current system is equipped to deal with new types of food and ministerial policy guidelines are not required.

In 2019, the ministers asked FRSC to examine any regulatory and labelling issues relating to ‘synthetic foods’, with the view to develop a policy guideline that would differentiate ‘synthetic’ animal products from their natural or conventional equivalents.

In latest communiqué from its 25 November meeting, the FMM said:

  • affirmed FSANZ’s view that foods produced by cell culture and precision fermentation will be captured within existing standards in the Code and require pre-market approval under Standard 1.5.1 Novel foods and Standard 1.5.2 Foods produced using gene technology;
  • affirmed that food produced by cell culture or precision fermentation is subject to the existing labelling requirements in the Code and Australian Consumer Law;
  • agreed that the term ‘synthetic foods’ is now too broad to usefully describe this area of food innovation, and therefore should now be referred to in more precise descriptive terms such as cell culture, precision fermentation or descriptors appropriate to other new technologies that may emerge;
  • accepted advice from FRSC that at this time, ministerial policy guidelines are not required as the food regulation system in Australia and New Zealand is equipped to deal with new types of food, including foods produced by new technologies; and
  • Food Ministers will continue to monitor the need for additional standards based on the number and nature of the applications received.

The communiqué said food companies should contact FSANZ to discuss their regulatory obligations and for pre application assistance. Businesses are required to apply for pre-market approval to sell their product in Australia and New Zealand, it said.

“Entities who are seeking or will be seeking regulatory approval from FSANZ should also consider compliance with other Australian and New Zealand regulatory frameworks, including but not limited to consumer law, biosecurity requirements, the Imported Food Inspection Scheme, gene technology frameworks and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,” the FMM communiqué said.

Modernisation of the System

In November 2019, food ministers endorsed an ambitious plan to reform the Bi-national Food Regulation System to ensure it “remains strong, robust and agile into the future”.

At the latest meeting, the ministers endorsed the Aspirations for the System (previously published as Draft in May 2021).

The complete modernisation package, including an updated Food Regulation Agreement, is anticipated to be provided to food ministers for decision in early 2023.

One of the key elements underpinning the reform agenda was a comprehensive review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (FSANZ Act).

The communiqué said the ministers endorsed proposed reform concepts for further exploration to inform the development of a draft final Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for the FSANZ Act Review.

The draft final RIS will be considered by food ministers at a future meeting prior to further public consultation in late 2023 or early 2024, it said.

The Food Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) considers food regulation and policy matters. It is chaired by Ged Kearney and comprises all Australian and New Zealand ministers responsible for food. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Chair and CEO attend the meeting as observers.

Chair and Lead Minister: Ged Kearney, Federal Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

Federal govt: Murray Watt, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

New Zealand: Meka Whaitiri, Minister for Food Safety

ACT:  Rachel Stephen-Smith, Minister for Health

New South Wales Lead Minister: Dugald Saunders, Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Western New South Wales

New South Wales: Brad Hazzard, Minister for Health

Northern Territory: Natasha Fyles, Chief Minister, Minister for Health

Queensland Lead: Yvette D’Ath, Minister for Health and Ambulance Services

Queensland: Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries

South Australia Lead: Christopher Picton, Minister for Health and Wellbeing

South Australia: Clare Scriven, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development

Tasmania: Jeremy Rockliff, Premier, Minister for Health

Victoria Lead: Mary-Anne Thomas, Minister for Health

Victoria: Gayle Tierney, Minister for Agriculture

Western Australia: Amber-Jade Sanderson, Minister for Health

Packaging News

In the first year of PKN’s Women in Packaging Awards programme, industry has stepped up with meaning. The response has been phenomenal, and the judges had their work cut out for them selecting the finalists from a competitive field of high-calibre nominees.

At The Hive Awards in Sydney today, the Best Packaging category was won by Don Smallgoods, part of George Weston Foods, for its resealable flow wrap pack for sandwich fillers and other smallgoods. This innovative packaging is a departure from the conventional thermoformed packs and addresses consumer demands for better functionality, sustainability, and product visibility.

Applications for the 2024 APCO Annual Awards are now open, and are open to all of industry to apply.