The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) this week invited the public and interested organisations to comment on proposed changes to the Food Standards Code, including new requirements for food-type dietary supplements and the irradiation of tropical fruits.
ANZFA's managing director Ian Lindenmayer said ANZFA is expected to become Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) on 1 July 2002 and so future invitations for public comment on food matters would come from the new Authority.
"FSANZ will maintain and build on ANZFA's approach of being open and transparent in consulting the public about all possible new food standards," Lindenmayer said. "We will also continue to base our decisions on robust data and rigorous scientific analysis," he added.
In a statement this week, ANZFA confirmed that at present, food-type dietary supplements usually cannot be manufactured in Australia, although they can be prepared and sold in New Zealand and imported to Australia for sale. However, ANZFA is currently examining the feasibility of developing new regulatory measures for food-type dietary supplements for the new Food Standards Code that would apply to both Australia and New Zealand.
Harmonisation between the two countries, claims ANZFA, would result in more equal trade opportunities, greater consistency in label information and possibly a greater range of products.
Food-type dietary supplements are products, presented as foods, that contain, in a concentrated form, nutrients and other bio-active substances, and/or herbs and other botanical substances. They are available as juices, snack-type bars, breakfast cereals, confectionery, yoghurts and other foods.
Moves to tackle the controversial issue of food irradiation have also taken place. The Ministerial Council approved the irradiation of herbs, spices and herbal infusions in 2001 following an application from Steritech. Surebeam Australia has now applied for approval to be allowed to irradiate the tropical fruits breadfruit, carambola, custard apple, litchi, longan, mango, mangosteen, papaya and rambutan as a pest disinfestation measure for critical quarantine pests such as the fruit fly.
ANZFA has concluded that the irradiation of the tropical fruits to a maximum of 1 kilogray from machine-sourced electron beams or x-rays, employing Good Manufacturing/Irradiation Practices, is safe for consumers. In the context of an overall diet, the irradiation of the fruits would have a minimal impact on an individual' s nutrient intake. If permitted, irradiated tropical fruits would require mandatory labelling to give consumers an informed choice when buying these fruits.
Individuals or organisations wishing to lodge submissions with ANZFA should do so by 7 August 2002. The procedure for making submissions is outlined on the ANZFA website.