Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is an Australian Government Authority responsible for setting food standards for Australia and New Zealand. These food standards are contained in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). This fact sheet describes a new Proposal to develop a standard for the primary production and processing of meat and meat products. The Proposal will examine the meat supply chain with a view to including through-chain measures for meat safety in the Code.
Since 2002, FSANZ has had responsibility for developing national food safety requirements for food production in Australia’s agricultural sectors – such as the fishing industry and the dairy industry. FSANZ has taken a sector-by-sector approach to developing primary production and processing standards. The food safety control measures in these standards, along with other standards in the Code, provide an approach to managing food safety in Australia that extends from production on the farm (or at sea) through to sale to the consumer.
A primary production and processing standard is a set of food safety obligations on primary producers and processors of food commodities. These obligations include measures to control food safety hazards before they actually appear in the final food i.e. at points in the food chain where they are expected to occur and are most effectively managed. Examples of such measures that could be important in meat production are:
- control of inputs such as feed and chemicals used in animal production and processing;
- premises, vehicles and equipment used in connection with raising and transporting animals;
- health and hygiene of persons working with animals or processing animals;
- skills and knowledge of these persons;
- storage and transportation of live animals and meat; and
FSANZ has already completed national standards for the seafood and dairy industries, and is currently developing standards for the raw milk, eggs, poultry meat and seed sprouts and now is initiating new work for meat.
Current industry and regulatory systems for Australia’s meat industry
A mix of animal health, welfare, biosecurity and meat safety systems developed and implemented on farm, in combination with ante and post-mortem inspection systems have resulted in one of the safest meat supplies in the world. As part of our new work we will:
- validate the effectiveness of current food safety measures to protect consumers from existing and emerging threats to human health;
- examine whether there are benefits to the domestic and export meat industry in a single Australia-wide meat standard to be included into State and Territory and export control legislation; and
- ensure that Australia has through- chain control of meat safety to assure customer confidence in the safety of our meat both in Australia and overseas.
Scope of the work
The scope is meat and meat products (including natural casings) from farmed major meat species – that is, farmed cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, including harvested goats. Also included are rendered products for human consumption. At a later stage, FSANZ will address the food safety requirements for farmed minor species using extensive and intensive farming, including emu and ostrich meat, and meat and meat products from wild game animals.
FSANZ works with the primary industry sector concerned to develop agreed measures to address food safety and importantly identify and address any risk management gaps in existing systems. The Standard Development Committee (SDC) on Meat and Meat Products has been established to assist with the development of the standard. SDC members (the membership is listed on the website) are drawn from the meat industry, government regulatory agencies and consumer organisations.
This committee provides expert technical advice on farming practices and the impact of regulation on businesses. State and Territory representatives, plus those from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, provide a regulatory perspective of how the system is currently operating and the scope for improvement.
A Scientific Advisory Group is advising FSANZ on scientific evidence for the Proposal and a Risk Management Working Group is advising on food safety management .
FSANZ as a standard-setting body must comply with Government requirements for developing standards and with the requirements of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991.
FSANZ will publish a First Assessment Report that will describe:
- the process for developing standards;
- an overview of the meat industry;
- the proposed scope of the work;
- the food safety hazards; and
- existing risk management measures in guidelines and in regulations.
The Report will also outline possible risk management options based on the best available scientific evidence. Such options may include voluntary and/or regulatory arrangements to manage safety. The First Assessment Report will seek your views on alternative options described in the Report.
FSANZ proposes to release the First Assessment Report for a six-week period of public comment in September 2009. It will be published on the FSANZ website and its availability advertised in the media. FSANZ encourages you to provide comment and information on the issues raised in the Report.
The above dates are indicative.
Impact on producers and processors
Part of the process is to examine the impact of any measures on producers, processors and others in the supply chain such as transporters and justify the benefits of any new requirements compared with the cost.
Meat production and processing is currently regulated by State and Territory governments and AQIS mainly by ensuring compliance with Australian Standard 4696 (2007)Hygienic production and transportation of meat and meat products for human consumption. The Proposal will examine whether there will be any changes to this arrangement.
Impact on exporters and importers
The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) monitors compliance with meat export and import legislation. AQIS is a member of the SDC and advises FSANZ on export and import issues. The aim is to provide a national standard to enhance Australia’s State and Territory regulatory arrangements for meat safety and thereby improve current arrangements for exported and imported meat.
Primary production and processing standards are part of State and Territory legislation and are enforced by these governments. FSANZ is working closely with the jurisdictions to align national food standards development processes with development of the implementation arrangements. Information on the integration of standards development and standards implementation will shortly be available on the Department of Health and Ageing Food Regulation Secretariat website: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/foodsecretariat-isc.htm