Food regulation news and developments - June 2019

1. FSANZ is calling for comment on an application to lower the minimum alcohol percentage in the Food Standards Code for Tequila from 37 per cent to 35 per cent FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said Spirits New Zealand proposed the changes which will harmonise requirements with Mexican rules for Tequila geographical indication (GI). A GI identifies a good (in this case Tequila) as originating in a specific region where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is attributable to that geographic origin. “Currently the Code requires all spirits to have a minimum content of 37 per cent. Therefore, some products legally entitled to use the Tequila GI are excluded from the New Zealand and Australian markets," Mr Booth said.

The period for comment closes 18 June 2019.

2. Updated Formulated Supplementary Sports Food Ingredient Restrictions

Some formulated supplementary sports foods currently being imported are not compliant with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) and may pose a risk to human health. Under section 8 of the Imported Food Control Act 1992, it is an offence to import food into Australia if it poses a risk to human health and penalties apply.

Food importers of Supplementary Sports Foods were advised on 29 May 2019 that 1,4-dimethylpentylamine (DMPA) and Phenpromethamine have been added to the list of substances considered to pose a risk to human health, when found present as an ingredient in formulated supplementary sports food. See: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/goods/food/notices/ifn09-19


3. FSANZ is calling for comment on Minimum Protein in Follow-On Formula

Follow-on formula is suitable for infants aged 6 to less than 12 months and is intended to be consumed with complementary food, not as a sole source of nutrition. FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the application from Nestlé Australia Limited and Nestlé New Zealand Limited seeks to reduce the minimum protein requirement for follow-on formula from 0.45 g/100 kJ to 0.38 g/100 kJ.

“FSANZ reviewed the best available scientific evidence to determine whether the reduced protein level protects the health and safety of formula-fed infants. We concluded that the requested minimum protein requirement (0.38 g/100 kJ) for milk-based follow-on formula is appropriate and safe," Mr Booth said. “The minimum protein requirement for soy-based follow-on formula would not change. The proposed change will also promote consistency between European regulations and the Code.”

The period for comment closes 13 June 2019.

4. Application A1102 – L-carnitine in Food

The purpose of this Application is to permit the sale of L-carnitine in a variety of food categories See: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/Pages/A1102-L-carnitineInFood.aspx


5. Application A1168–Glucoamylase from GM Aspergillus niger as a Processing Aid

The purpose of the Application is to permit the use of glucoamylase produced from a genetically modified strain of Aspergillus niger as a Processing Aid. See: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/Pages/A1168%20%E2%80%93%20Glucoamylase-from-GM-Aspergillus-niger-as-a-Processing-Aid-%28Enzyme%29-.aspx


6. Application A1176 – Enzymatic production of Steviol Glycosides (new application)

The purpose of this Application is to seek approval for a new specification for steviol glycosides produced by an enzymatic bioconversion method using enzymes derived from genetically modified strains of Escherichia coli See: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/Pages/A1176.aspx


7. The latest Food Standards Notification Circular (80-19) was published on 16 May 2019. The Circular summarises work currently being undertaken or finalised by FSANZ including:

· A1176 - Enzymatic production of Steviol Glycosides (new application)

· A1173 - Minimum protein in follow-on formula (call for comments)

· A1102 - L-carnitine in Food (Forum)

· A1168 - Glucoamylase from GM Aspergillus niger as a processing aid (Enzyme) (Forum)

· M1016 - Maximum Residue Limits (2018) (Forum)


Food Labelling Related Media in the month of May, as highlighted by FSANZ:


Public health experts want the Health Star Rating system to become mandatory, after it was found they are only on around 30 per cent of foods. You can also listen to the story from ABC Radio National.


Australia and New Zealand’s Health Star Rating system has been dismissed as flawed in a new study because salty, sugary and fatty products are scoring too highly due to loopholes in the system and unhealthy items often avoid carrying the labels entirely.


A Coeliac disease expert from The University of Western Australia is calling for greater transparency in the testing of gluten free foods after reports that some gluten free products contain traces of glut.


Food recalls in Australia were up 45 per cent in 2018, compared with 2017, and SAI Global suggests this could be due to poor training, poor controls and a lack of accountability.


A Geelong, Victoria family have discovered plastic in their Woolworths chicken Kievs.

Traceability in the Australian egg industry has come under fire from producers, with the peak industry body admitting more could be done to improve the current system.


According to researchers from Sydney, titanium dioxide may have a ‘substantial and harmful influence on human health’. Last month France announced it would ban the additive in food from 2020 and the European Food Safety Authority have re-iterated the conclusion that titanium dioxide is safe to eat.


A South Australian woman who found a bug inside a tin of tomatoes is unhappy with the slow response regarding her complaint.


ABC Radio National discuss whether or not we need GM crops.


Over Sixty covers the recall of Ingham’s Turkey Breast Roast due to the presence of an undeclared allergen.


A Melbourne woman has allegedly found a piece of metal in the yoghurt she was eating.


Australian bakery chain Michel's Patisserie has admitted to extending the shelf life of its products after it was accused of selling customers cakes that were several months past their use-by dates.


The AMA reviews the Health Star Rating system five years on.


Many countries around the world continue to disallow the cultivation of genetically modified crops or GM crops, but in Australia, GM crops are banned in only two states, SBS in-language talked to a researcher on the implications.


"Tuno" is being sold as "vegetarian fishless tuna" which tastes similar to regular tinned tuna but is made with water, soy flour, yeast extract, maltodextrin and salt, instead of fish.


A woman who spent Easter in hospital, after eating chocolate she believed was dairy free, has said she has been trolled online in the days following her ordeal.


This article looks at the implications of the decision of the Australian Government decision to not regulate SDN-1 gene editing techniques.


Cider Australia have called for the Government to introduce a minimum juice content standard for cider and streamline regulatory requirements.

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