Current developments in food law and policy in Australia and internationally (October 2021)

By Joe Lederman (FoodLegal Co-Principal) and John Thisgaard (FoodLegal Senior Associate)

© Lawmedia Pty Ltd, October 2021

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) news

1.     FSANZ calls for submissions on Proposal P1055 – Definitions for gene technology and new breeding techniques

On 7 October 2021 FSANZ called for submissions from industry with respect to Proposal P1055 to revise and update the regulatory definitions for 'food produced using gene technology' and 'gene technology'.

Submissions are due by 3 December 2021.

 

2.     FSANZ calls for submissions on egg production and processing

On 27 September 2021 FSANZ called for information and data for use in its review requirements for the primary production and processing of eggs and egg products.

FSANZ has identified that its review will focus on the interface between biosecurity and food safety measures on-farm, and the adequacy of current requirements for the safe production of eggs and egg products.

Submissions are due by 8 November 2021.

 

3.     FSANZ approves Application A1222 – Steviol glycosides from Yarrowia lipolytica​

On 27 September 2021 FSANZ announced that it had approved amendments to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code) arising from Application A1222 by Avansya V.O.F.

FSANZ has notified the Food Ministers’ Meeting of its decision. The Food Ministers’ Meeting has until 26 November 2021 to either request FSANZ to review its approval or inform FSANZ that it does not intend to request a review.

 

4.     FSANZ calls for submissions on Application A1226 – Food derived from insect-protected corn line MON95379

On 16 September 2021 FSANZ called for submissions from industry with respect to Application A1226 by Bayer CropScience Proprietary Limited to seek approval for the sale and use of food derived from genetically modified corn (maize) line MON95379.

Submissions are due by 1 November 2021.

 

5.     FSANZ calls for submissions on infant formula consultation paper

On 8 September 2021 FSANZ called for submissions from industry with respect to Infant Formula Consultation Paper 3 – Regulatory framework and definitions.

This is the third consultation paper released under Proposal P1028, which is a review of infant formula regulation in Australia. We addressed the implications of Proposal P1028 and the scope of previous consultation papers in our September 2021 edition of FoodLegal Bulletin.

Submissions are due by 20 October 2021.

 

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) news

6.     ACCC raises competition concerns with proposed pork acquisition

On 16 September 2021 the ACCC outlined preliminary competition concerns regarding the proposed acquisition of pork producer Rivalea Holdings Pty Ltd by JBS Australia Pty Ltd.

The ACCC is concerned that the acquisition could allow JBS to raise fresh pork prices to competing smallgoods producers, and offer less competitive services out of Rivalea’s existing Diamond Valley Pork abattoir.

The ACCC was seeking further information from interested parties until 30 September 2021.

 

7.     Milk Co-operative penalised for alleged breach of Dairy Code

On 1 October 2021 the ACCC announced that Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative Limited (DFMC) had paid an $11,000 penalty for al alleged breach of the Dairy Code of Conduct.

The ACCC claims that DFMC did not publish any of its standard form milk supply agreements for the 2021-22 dairy season on its website by 1 June 2021, in breach of the Diary Code of Conduct. As a result, the ACCC issued an infringement notice.

The ACCC has stated that it is continuing to monitor industry compliance with the Dairy Code of Conduct.

 

Other Australian food regulatory issues

8.     Victoria and NSW consider new animal welfare provisions

Victoria is considering a major 'reform' to animal welfare laws.

The responsible Victorian government department is seeking to introduce an overlaying concept of animal "sentience" throughout Victoria's animal welfare laws. By contrast, the State of NSW is also seeking to amend its animal welfare laws by introducing a less broad concept of "psychological suffering" of animals in the context of animal cruelty.

We discuss these new laws and their legal interpretation in this October 2021 edition of FoodLegal Bulletin.

 

9.     TGA takes action against political party for breach of copyright

On 15 September 2021 the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced it was taking action against the Federal United Australia Party (UAP).

The TGA alleges that the UAP had breached copyright by distributing incomplete extracts adverse event reports relating to COVID-19 vaccines. The TGA further alleges that the way that the extracts were edited and presented could be seriously misleading.

The TGA has demanded that UAP stop distributing the extracts in question.

 

10.  Ad Standards dismisses complaint against toddler formula

On 22 September 2021 the Ad Standards Community Panel dismissed a complaint against claims made in a television advertisement for a toddler formula product.

The advertisement featured claims that the product contained nutrients to support immune systems, and also included reference to iron, zinc, vitamin A, C and D. The complaint alleged that the claims were not properly supported.

The Ad Standards Community Panel found that the advertisement did not breach relevant advertising standards because the claim complied with Standard 1.2.7 of the Food Standards Code (which deals with the making of health claims and nutrition content claims).

 

11.  APVMA to review Agricultural Labelling Code

In September 2021 the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority announced that it will be undertaking a review of the Agricultural Labelling Code.

The Agricultural Labelling Code sets out labelling requirements for agricultural products such as pesticides used in food production. The review will consider all labelling requirements contained in the Code as well as the way that the Code is presented on the APVMA website to enhance usability.

The APVMA has stated that it will engage in consultation on the revised Agricultural Labelling Code between April 2022-September 2024.

 

12.  Nicotine vaping products reclassified as prescription-only medicines

On 1 October 2021 an amendment to the Poisons Standard took effect that reclassifies all nicotine vaping products as prescription-only medicines.

Under the amendment, all nicotine vaping products will be regarded as therapeutic goods and can only be purchased or imported in personal quantities with a prescription. Businesses importing and/or selling such products must have a relevant therapeutic good licence and must ensure that the supply to individuals meets relevant requirements under the Therapeutic Goods Act.

 

International food regulatory news

New Zealand

13.  Seafood business fined for black market fish scam

In July 2021 Southern Ocean Seafoods Limited and its sole director were fined a total of NZ$1.05 million by the Manukau District Court for breaches of the NZ Fisheries Act.

The Court found that Southern Ocean Seafoods has harvested and distributed more than 12 tonnes of unreported seafood, valued at more than NZ$900,000. The Court also ordered that Southern Ocean Seafood’s crayfish quota shares valued at over NZ$1.2 million be forfeited to the New Zealand government.

The judgment was subject to a name suppression order until 5 October 2021.

 

United States

14.  US Department of Agriculture seeks comments on cell-based ‘meat’ labelling

On 2 September 2021 the US Department of Agriculture announced it is seeking submissions with respect to the labelling of cell-based ‘meat’ products.

In particular, the Department of Agriculture has highlighted that it is looking at the following issues:

·        Whether cell-based products should include a product name that distinguishes them from animal products

·        Which product names could be misleading

·        The application of current US standards of identity for meat to cell-based products

·        How cell-based products should be included in ingredients lists

The US Department of Agriculture is accepting submissions until 1 November 2021.

 

15.  US FDA approves food colour made from butterfly pea flower

On 7 September 2021 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had approved a new colouring substance derived from butterfly pea flower for use in food.

The colour has been described as a “natural blue” and has been marketed as an alternative to artificially created blue colourings. The FDA approval extends to use in beverages, ice cream and other frozen dairy desserts, confectionery, yoghurt, liquid coffee creamers and chewing gum.

 

European Union

16.  EFSA commences consultation on glyphosate

On 23 September 2021 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) commenced consultations on their scientific evaluation of glyphosate.

Glyphosate is a common agricultural chemical and was approved for use for 5 years in the EU in 2017. This consultation relates to the renewal assessment report for the use of glyphosate beyond 2022.

Submissions are open for a period of 60 days.  

 

United Kingdom

17.  UK FSA proposes unfortified flour in products sold outside the UK

On 13 September 2021 the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced it is seeking comments from stakeholders regarding a proposal for millers to sell unfortified flour in limited circumstances.

The proposal relates only to the placement of unfortified flour onto the Northern Ireland market subject to it being destined for countries outside the UK, or used in products destined to be sold outside the UK.

Submissions are due by 6 December 2021.

 

18.  New allergen labelling laws come into effect in the UK

On 1 October 2021 new laws requiring the labelling of allergens on specific types of foods came into effect across the UK.

The new laws extend allergen labelling requirements to food that is prepacked for direct sale, including pre-wrapped sandwiches, fast food that’s already in packaging before a customer places their order, and supermarket items such as cheeses and meat from the deli counter that are already wrapped and ready to be served.

Such products must now include a full ingredients list on their packaging, which emphasises the presence of any of the 14 prescribed allergens.

 

19.  UK FSA accepts recommendations from food safety audit

On 24 September 2021 the UK FSA announced that it had accepted all of the recommendations from the National Audit Office report into the effectiveness of food safety and identity regulations in the UK.

The report was completed in June 2019 and included a number of recommendations including that the FSA develop a sampling strategy to help manage food safety and food fraud risks, that the FSA assess set performance benchmarks for local authority regulators, and that the FSA address various regulatory gaps including in its assessment and enforcement powers.

 

India

20.  Indian Food Authority releases draft standard for vegan products

On 6 September 2021 the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India published its draft Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Food) Regulations 2021.

The draft regulations impose specific definitions, safety requirements and labelling requirements for vegan foods sold in India. Under the draft regulations, vegan food will be defined as “those foods or food ingredients that have not made use of any ingredients, additives and processing aids of animal origin including milk and milk products, fish, poultry and meat, egg or egg products, honey or honey bee products, materials of insect origin like silk, dyes, chitin/chitosan etc or ingredients that are clarified using animal sourced products e.g., bone char used in sugar bleaching, isinglass in clarifying beer etc.”

The draft regulations have been released for comment for a period of 60 days.

 


This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 7 Oct 2021. We therefore recommend you seek legal advice for your particular circumstances if you want to rely on advice or information to be a basis for any commercial decision-making by you or your business.