Australia has a country categorisation and import certification system in place to ensure that beef and beef products imported into Australia come from animals free from BSE.
Under this system, FSANZ conducts food safety assessments to determine the BSE risk status of an applicant country and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry implements import certification requirements at the border.
The department also undertakes an import risk analysis (IRA) of countries wanting to export fresh (chilled or frozen) beef to Australia. The IRA assesses animal health systems of the exporting country and biosecurity risks associated with importing fresh beef from the country.
The BSE food safety assessment process
Countries wanting to export beef or beef products to Australia must apply to the Australian BSE Food Safety Assessment Committee (the Committee) for a determination of its country BSE risk status. The application must include a completed Australian Questionnaire to Assess BSE risk, which must be completed in English by the competent national government authority.
Applications are processed by the Committee and FSANZ and are prioritised based on the:
- applicant country's recent history of exporting beef or beef products to Australia
- completeness of data provided in the application
- willingness of the applicant country to accommodate an in-country verification inspection conducted by Australian government officials
- geographic location of the applicant country.
FSANZ's safety assessment is based on the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) methodology applied to determine the BSE risk status of a country. On-site verification of BSE control measures, when considered necessary by the Committee, will be conducted by Australian officials through an in-country inspection visit. Once approved by the Committee, a draft assessment report based on the information provided in the application and the findings of the in-country inspection visit, is issued to the competent national authority of the applicant country for comment for 60 days.
After the 60-day comment period, FSANZ prepares a final assessment report and recommends a BSE risk category for the applicant country. Once endorsed by the Committee, the final assessment report and country category is approved by the Chief Executive Officer of FSANZ who then advises the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry of the final category so that it can develop and implement certification requirements for beef or beef products. The final report is also provided to the applicant country for reference. This diagram represents the assessment process.
A completed submission addressing the requirements in the Questionnaire, together with any supporting documentation, in Word or text searchable Portable Document Format (PDF) and the contact details for the responsible officer of the Competent National Government Authority of the applicant country should be forwarded to:
Australian BSE Food Safety Assessment Committee
PO Box 5423
Kingston ACT 2600