TGA proposal to hurt food companies: food law expert

Posted by James Ferre on 16th October 2009

A decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – which is responsible for the monitoring and law enforcement of all ‘therapeutic goods’ in Australia – could have major ramifications for some players in the food sector.

The TGA released a consultation paper last week that proposed to define all goods in tablet, capsule and pill form as ‘therapeutic goods’. As a result, manufacturers of such products would need to comply with TGA regulations and have their facilities audited by the regulatory body.

Managing Principal of the FoodLegal law firm and an Adjunct Professor of Food Law at Deakin University, Professor Joe Lederman, advised that the move could be worrisome for some food firms.

“Given the strict (and expensive) auditing and pre-approval process that ‘therapeutic goods’ are subject to, many companies prefer to market nutritionally functional products as ‘food’,” he noted.

The current TGA Act allows for a clear line to be drawn to distinguish therapeutic goods from food but this line could be blurred by the proposal, according to Professor Lederman. Therefore, some products currently sold as food may find themselves under TGA regulation.

“Given the research into the nutritional and functional properties of certain substances in food (such as antioxidants, omega fatty acids or probiotics) and the development of products, the Australian food industry stands to lose considerably if the TGA asserts its role in blurring the practical differences,” he said. “(Indeed), this proposal by the TGA may threaten the existence of many food companies.”

The TGA proposal runs counter to a number of overseas trends and regulatory developments, he added.

Submissions to the TGA regarding the consultation paper are permitted until November 30, 2009.