The Food Standards Code set the standards for food labelling and composition for all States and Territories throughout Australia and New Zealand. It also covers food safety and hygiene standards and fit-out of food premises, as well as primary production standards for Australia.
The Food Standards Code was developed and is kept current by Food Safety Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). The organisation uses the best available scientific evidence to develop food standards, with the aim of protecting public health and the safety of consumers. FSANZ also coordinates the recall of foods in Australia. The enforcement of the code in Australia is the responsibility of various State and Territory government departments and other food enforcement agencies.
FSANZ also produces advisory materials for consumers on topics relating to food safety – for example, the issues of mercury in fish, food allergies and intolerances and genetically modified foods. The standards set out labelling requirements for packaged foods, including nutrition claims. For example, with a ‘good source of calcium’ claim, the food needs to contain at least the amount of calcium specified in the Standard.
The Food Standards Code contains four chapters:
Chapter 1 – Introduction and standards that apply to all foods includes regulations that apply to most foods, e.g. labelling requirements, substances that can be added to food and safety of materials in contact with food. This chapter also includes permissions for new foods, limits for chemical and microbiological contaminants and maximum residue limits of veterinary and chemical residues in foods.
Chapter 2 – Food standards includes compositional requirements for specific foods e.g. meat, fish and alcoholic beverages.
Chapter 3 – Food safety standards includes requirements for food handlers wherever food is sold and applies only in Australia e.g. good food safety practices such as training staff, keeping food at the correct temperature, washing hands and keeping equipment clean.
Chapter 4 – Primary production standards also only applies in Australia. This chapter includes primary production and processing standards for agricultural commodities such as seafood, poultry meat, specific cheeses, wine and dairy products.