More: More than two-thirds of all the food processors in Australia are owned by agribusinesses.
Agri-food companies are not subject to any restrictions under the Food and Drugs Act and can sell their products to anyone, but it is a big concern to many food consumers that food processing firms can be implicated in the production of drugs and other products that can be harmful to humans and animals.
But the Federal Government has not yet put a blanket ban on food processors and agri-businesses in Australia, with the Food Safety and Standards Commission (FSSA) saying the Food Standards and Marketing Act has “no place” in a regulatory framework for food processing.FSSA chairperson John Geddes told the ABC that while the legislation allows food processors to “make decisions about the safety of their products”, the FSSA is “not a regulatory agency”.
“We are not the regulator of food processors,” he said.
“Our role is to ensure that the rules are clear, that the law is clear, and that it is applied fairly.”
We cannot legislate or create a regulatory regime on the basis of an individual’s belief system.
We are not that.
“It’s important that we don’t overstep that line.”FSSA rules apply to processors who process raw meat, seafood, eggs and dairy products.
But it also covers products such as pasta, pizza, bread and biscuits.
“The FSSA’s role is not to create a food regulatory regime or to regulate food processing,” Mr Gedds said.”FSSA’s job is to apply the law and ensure that we comply with it.”
I am pleased that the Government is taking these matters seriously, but I would expect that the FSRA will continue to consider how we can support a regulatory environment that is free from any regulatory burden on food processing.
“Mr Geddson said the FSMA is working to improve its oversight of food processing companies, which are now subject to a range of oversight mechanisms.FSMA chairperson Julie Kelly said it was “premature” to legislate a blanket prohibition on food companies and agribuses, given that the industry has been in a position to adjust to the changes introduced by the government.”
In many cases it is the individual processors that are changing and adjusting, and therefore we don�t anticipate that we will be able to legislatively impose a blanket restriction,” Ms Kelly said.
Ms Kelly said the Government should consult on the issue before making any decisions.
The Government is also seeking input on how it could better protect food consumers, particularly older Australians, by providing a new national register of food producers.
The FSMA also wants to see a review of the Food Quality Act to identify the impact of food quality standards on the food supply chain and food safety.”
Given that we have a significant number of food manufacturers in Australia who have large operations and food production operations in the region, and they produce foods in a number of different regions, we want to make sure that they are safe and secure, and it’s important to ensure those standards are in place,” Ms Geddys said.
The FSCA was set up in 2012 to address the lack of transparency and accountability in the food processing industry.