At regular times throughout each year the Health Ministers of all the Australian jurisdictions and New Zealand, as well as the Australian Local Government Association, meet to review recommendations from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and other food related matters.This is called The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) an is chaired by Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck.
The following are outcomes from the August 2019 meeting
- HEALTH STAR RATING FIVE-YEAR REVIEW
A formal five year review by independent reviewer, mpconsulting, was presented to the Forum Although it was recognised that there is increasing consumer use and understanding and the system is progressing well, there is still opportunity for improvement. The report from the review is publicly available on the Health Star Rating website
The Forum members will await recommendations and make a formal decision at the next meeting to be held in November.
- SUPPORTING THE PUBLIC HEALTH OBJECTIVES TO REDUCE CHRONIC DISEASE RELATED TO OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY
It was recognised by the Forum that more than Food Regulation is required to address the overweight and obesity problem in Australia and New Zealand.
So activities, like; setting compositional limits, advertising and marketing partnerships, development of a Policy guideline on food labelling and improved data collection. There will be ongoing consultation with all stakeholders.
- LABELLING OF SUGARS ON PACKAGED FOODS AND DRINKS
The Policy Paper: Labelling of sugars on packaged foods and drinks, prepared by the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) was noted by the Forum and it was agreed to request FSANZ review added sugars in the nutrition labelling and that the use of pictures requires further consideration.
The paper is availableon the Food Regulation website
Education will be required with any label changes.
- FAST FOOD MENU BOARD LABELLING
Although this is already required in five jurisdictions and voluntary in new Zealand, it was agreed that the labelling needs to be nationally consistent and that a food regulatory measure is to be developed. A Ministerial Policy Guideline is to be developed as the first step and there will be ongoing consultation with stakeholders.
- FERMENTED BEVERAGES
A survey has revealed undeclared alcohol in some of these fermented beverages and therefore they may not comply with current liquor licensing legislation and Standards within the Code. The Forum members were updated on actions resulting from this survey.
- SALMONELLA ENTERIDITIS
An overview of the developing situation with Salmonella Enteritidis in Australia and the actions being undertaken across jurisdictions to limit the spread.
- Modernisation of the food regulation system
The updated Principles and Protocols for the Development of Food Regulation Policy Guidance was endorsed by the forum. This guidance focusses on making the current regulatory system more agile and timely.
- Energy labelling of alcoholic beverages
As alcoholic beverages are exempt from providing nutrition panels, there is no information about the energy contribution of alcohol to consumer’s diets.
The Forum agreed to ask FSANZ to include energy labelling in the work already being undertaken on alcohol labelling.
The next meeting will be held in November 2019.