Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is commencing a second round of public consultation on its review of food safety in the berries, leafy vegetables and melons sectors.
FSANZ has assessed four regulatory and non-regulatory options for each sector to identify a preferred approach to improve food safety management and reduce rates of foodborne illness.
FSANZ Interim Chief Executive Officer Dr Sandra Cuthbert said the agency considered a variety of factors in its assessment.
“We took into account food safety risks, costs of foodborne illness, coverage of existing industry schemes, the lack of a national approach, cost-benefit and submissions to our first round of consultation when reviewing the options for each sector," Dr Cuthbert said.
“As a result of this assessment, FSANZ's preferred approach is to recommend the introduction of a combination of regulatory and non-regulatory measures to manage food safety in these sectors, delivering an estimated $138 million in net benefits over a 10-year period.
“We believe this option has the best cost-benefit ratio in terms of the costs of implementation and the benefits in reducing illness."
Through proposal P1052 – Primary Production and Processing Requirements for Horticulture (Berries, Leafy Vegetables and Melons), FSANZ proposes to:
- amend the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to include a primary production and processing standard for each of the three sectors, and
- work with industry to develop non-regulatory measures to assist businesses to understand and comply with the standards.
“The food safety management measures included in the draft proposed standards would align with those in existing industry food safety schemes, to support cost-effective implementation by businesses already participating in such schemes," Dr Cuthbert said.
“Should the proposed draft standards be introduced, they would create a level playing field for businesses in managing food safety and further strengthen consumer confidence in the safety of this fresh produce.
“Although a combination of regulatory and non-regulatory measures is currently FSANZ's preferred approach, we are seeking information and views on all options.
“We recognise this is an important proposal for the three sectors and have extended the consultation period from six to 12 weeks to ensure we effectively engage businesses, industry and regulators in the process."
FSANZ invites comments from interested parties on the proposed measures by 6pm (Canberra time) 9 February 2022. FSANZ will consider all submissions before making a final decision. All FSANZ decisions on proposals to develop or update standards are notified to the ministers responsible for food regulation in Australia and New Zealand, who can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.
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