SPEAKING at the recent Food Laboratory Seminar and Workshop in Melbourne, Food Assist managing director agreed with the Ministerial Council that there are a number of impediments affecting Food Standards Australia New Zealand ’s (FSANZ) ability to expedite new or amended Standards.
He welcomed the review being undertaken that will focus on ways to streamline existing processes and minimise the regulatory burden on the food industry.
Cossen also acknowledged the Ministers’ call for any changes, including changes to legislation, to be made as expeditiously as possible and welcomed the Ministerial Council’s commitment to increasing stakeholder participation.
In a presentation The Changing Face of Food Regulations, Cossen expressed concern that the outcome of the review of FSANZ operations will not rectify the entrenched shortcomings in the working of Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
He stressed the importance of wide consultation with all stakeholders and urged ministers to ensure that changes are wide-ranging and comprehensive.
“When the National Food Authority (predecessor to ANZFA and FSANZ) was created in 1991, there were expectations that this new peak body would streamline the establishment and maintenance of standards ensuring rapid and efficient handling of proposals and applications,” Cossen said.
Cossen said that this situation has not eventuated.
“FSANZ has a backlog of work, a jam-packed work plan and has introduced a system that favours larger, profitable companies by expediting requests if the applicant can afford to make a substantial payment to FSANZ,” he said.
“Reflecting on the achievements of FSANZ, the encouraging progress towards a system of health claims, labelling standards that protect those suffering from food allergies and the introduction of primary industry standards establishing a “paddock to plate” approach were examples of significant developments.”