To avoid a repeat of the 2015 imported frozen berries incident the Coalition is introducing a new food safety system, with importers and other stakeholders now able to have their say on the potential business impacts of a range of proposed changes. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said today’s release of a consultation Regulation Impact Statement for public comment will help strengthen Australia’s imported food safety system.
“These proposed changes are designed to give the community greater confidence about the safety of the food they eat. However, in creating a more robust system, it’s important the changes don’t impose unnecessary costs or regulatory burden on industry, consumers or trading partners,” Minister Joyce said.
“We want to be sure the options we consider are practical and viable.
“I encourage food importers and other stakeholders to have their say and help us understand the potential impact on the food industry from any proposed reforms.
“The reform package will include options for providing more flexible and targeted ways to prevent and respond to food safety risks, including addressing the effectiveness of border inspection and testing to detect food safety issues, monitoring and management of emerging food safety risks and strengthening emergency response and traceability.
“Australia already has strong and reliable systems in place, but ensuring the safety of imported food becomes more challenging as greater volumes of food are imported and consumed and as global supply chains become more complex.
“We will make sure our system continues to be strong and flexible so it can keep pace with these trends. Recent food safety issues—such as the cases of hepatitis A in frozen Chinese berries last year—have further underlined the importance of making sure our imported food system can quickly identify, respond to and manage food safety risks, while meeting our international obligations.
“Australians need to know that imported food is safe, which is why we are taking steps to strengthen the system while reducing the regulatory burden for compliant food importers.
“We will work in consultation with the imported food industry, state and territory food authorities and our trading partners on a range of reform options to keep our imported food system strong, modern and flexible.”
The consultation Regulation Impact Statement is available for public comment at agriculture.gov.au/imported-food-reform until close of business 30 September 30. Ω
Posted 22 August 2016