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Food law, treaties and agreements

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is a statutory authority operating under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991

The Act provides a focus for cooperation between governments, industry and the community to establish and maintain uniform food regulation in Australia and New Zealand.

Australian food standards are harmonised as a result of an inter-Governmental Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the states and territories. Under this agreement the states and territories adopt, without variation, Food Standards which have been approved by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation.

Partnership with states and territories

Under a 1991 agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the states and territories, the states and territories adopt, without variation, food standards FSANZ has recommended and which a ministerial council representing all jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, has approved. The purpose of the 1991 agreement was to consolidate responsibility for developing food standards in one specialist agency and to ensure the uniformity of food standards across all states and territories, which continue to have primary responsibility for enforcing food laws. In general, these arrangements continue to apply.

On 3 November 2000, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signed an Inter Government Agreement (IGA) agreeing to a new food regulatory system. The Commonwealth of Australia and all the Australian states and territories are signatories to the agreement. The new arrangements required a renegotiation of the Treaty with New Zealand before full implementation.

These reforms were brought about as a result of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decision in November 2000 following consideration of the Food Regulation Review (Blair Report) that was presented to Government in August 1998.

Partnership with New Zealand

On 1 July 1996, an agreement to establish one joint food setting system between Australia and New Zealand came into force. The joint arrangement is to harmonise food standards between the two countries, reduce compliance costs for industry and help remove regulatory barriers to trade in food.

The agreement does not cover some areas, such as maximum residue limits, food hygiene provisions and export requirements relating to third country trade. It also contains provisions which allow New Zealand to opt out of a joint standard for exceptional reasons relating to health, safety, environmental concerns or cultural issues. In such cases, FSANZ may be asked to prepare a variation to a standard to apply only in New Zealand.

The agreement requires that FSANZ and the New Zealand Minister of Health conclude a funding and performance agreement annually. This agreement details the services FSANZ is to provide and includes quarterly performance reporting, details of New Zealand's contribution and the payment schedule.

Further information on the arrangements can be obtained from the Food Regulation website

The brochure, ' The New Zealand Food Regulatory Environment ' (July 2004) produced by New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) outlines the role of each organisation and the linkages they share.

Food regulation agreements 

On 3 November 2000, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signed an Inter-Governmental Food Regulation Agreement (FRA) agreeing to a new food regulatory system. The Commonwealth of Australia and all the Australian States and Territories are signatories to the Agreement. The FRA has been updated several times since 2000.

A Treaty between Australia and New Zealand – the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand concerning a Joint Food Standards System – gives effect to New Zealand’s participation in the system and further specifies the role of FSANZ. This was signed in 1995 and has been updated several times since then.

Treaty 2010 (unauthorised updated version), 2011 (pdf 54 kb)

Exchange of letters, 2010 (pdf 94 kb)

Other related documents

Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991

Food Standards Australia New Zealand Regulations 1994

Treaty with New Zealand (PDF 45 kb)

Inter-government Agreement

Model Food Bill (October 2000)

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