Australian new Imported Food Reform draft released

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 22nd March 2017

The Australian Federal Government has released the first draft of proposed regulatory changes which it claims will “better protect Australia from unsafe imported foods” without “unnecessary red tape”.

The draft of the proposed import food reform law was issued on 20 March 2017 by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Members of the public, food companies and Australia’s trading partners are now being invited to read and provide comment on the proposed regulatory changes.

However, there is not much time as the consultation period is to end on 4 May 2017.

Submissions can be made through the Australian Federal Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ website, and further direct lobbying is anticipated.

“The Coalition Government is committed to keeping Australia’s borders strong and has set about amending the imported food laws, the changes include giving the government greater scope to hold food at the border if there are reasonable grounds to suspect food poses a serious risk to human health,” Minister Joyce said.

“They [the new draft laws] address limitations with the current regulatory framework for the management of imported food safety risks, which were uncovered following the frozen berries linked to the hepatitis A outbreak in February 2015,” he said.

The government says under the proposed changes, if the berries incident arose again, the government could put in place a holding order for such imports at the border.

The value of food being imported into Australia is increasing with a five-year trend growth rate of 10.3 per cent per annum for processed food and 7.9 per cent annual rate of increase for unprocessed food. There are approximately 16, 000 food importing businesses bringing food into Australia each year.

According to information published by the Australian Government, there are currently an estimated 4.1 million episodes of gastrointestinal foodborne illnesses in Australia each year, some of which are fatal. Improvements in imported food controls are being linked to tackling this issue.


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