Food and Health ministers agree on policy guidelines for caffeine regulation
Australia’s health and food regulation ministers have endorsed the revised Policy Guideline on the Regulatory Management of Caffeine in the Food Supply, after consultation with industry, public health and consumer groups.
The revised Policy Guideline was signed off as part of a meeting of the Legislative and Governance Forum of Food Regulation which took place in Sydney late last week. The Forum consists of all Australian and New Zealand Ministers responsible for food regulation and is chaired by the Australian Government Assistant Minister for Health, Senator the Honorable Fiona Nash.
Australian Food News reported in September 2013 that Australia’s Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) had invited public submissions on a Food Regulation Policy Options Paper for formulating policy guidelines on the regulation of caffeine in food in Australia and New Zealand.
The FRSC is responsible for providing food regulation policy advice to Australian Federal and State Government as well as the New Zealand government. The purpose of the Food Regulation Policy Options Paper was to establish if the earlier 2003 “Ministerial Council Policy Guideline on the Addition of Caffeine to Foods” needed to be updated, maintained or rescinded.
Thirty-two submissions were received from interested parties and two public stakeholder meetings were held. On 23 September 2013, 24 participants attended in Sydney, Australia and on 25 September 2013, 12 participants attended in Auckland, New Zealand.
At the meeting of the Legislative and Governance Forum of Food Regulation last Friday, the Forum endorsed the revised Policy Guideline on the Regulatory Management of Caffeine in the Food Supply which took into account the issues raised by stakeholders.
History of caffeine regulation policy in Australia
In 2003, Food Ministers issued the Ministerial Council Policy Guideline on the Addition of Caffeine to Foods. Since 2003, the number of products containing caffeine on the market has increased. Public concerns have been raised that this may be associated with increased dietary exposure, particularly amongst vulnerable populations. In May 2011, the Forum agreed that it was time to review the 2003 Ministerial Council Policy Guideline.
The agreed revised Policy Guideline will provide a framework for the regulatory management of caffeine in the food supply and will supersede the 2003 Ministerial Council Policy Guideline. The Forum has provided the Policy Guideline to Food Standards Australia New Zealand for guidance in the development or review of food standards.