New Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code version gets go-ahead from Ministers

FoodLegal Lawyers and Consultants

© Lawmedia Pty Ltd, February 2015


At a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum (the Ministerial Forum) on 30 January 2015, Australia’s food ministers accepted a new version of the Food Standards Code.

As at the date of this publication (10 February 2015), the revised Code is expected to commence on 1 March 2016.

In drafting the revision, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has stated the key goal of the revision had been to make the Food Standards Code interact “more effectively” with State, Territory and Federal food legislation (including enforcement against infringement of the Food Standards Code as a criminal offence under the Food Act of each Australian jurisdiction).

There will be significant effects from the introduction of the new Food Standards Code such as the changes to permitted food additives, processing aids and nutritive substances added to various foods. All jurisdictions prohibit the addition of substances to food products unless they have been expressly permitted in the Food Standards Code. The changes will therefore be significant for anyone involved in product development or food processing production.

Once the revision is active, all standards in Chapters 1 (General Food Standards) and 2 (Food Product Standards) of the current Code will be replaced and become individual legislative instruments. The current Chapters 3 (Food Safety Standards) and 4 (Primary Production Standards) will be maintained, and a dictionary of defined terms is to be added “to assist in user understanding”.

Unlike the previous consolidated 2002 version of the Food Standards Code, no transition period has been proposed by either FSANZ or the Ministerial Forum. Instead, FSANZ is proposing the new Code commence on the same day the current version ceases application, currently proposed to be 1 March 2016. However, there is still discussion occurring as to whether a stock-in-trade concession will be applicable.

This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 12 Dec 2015. 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.