The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for administering two sets of requirements for imported food . These requirements are designed to:
All imported food must meet biosecurity requirements to be allowed into the country. Once imported food has met these requirements foods are monitored for compliance to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
The Biosecurity Act 2015 requires that all imports of food comply with the biosecurity conditions for their import. Restrictions apply to many raw foods and certain processed food brought through the airport or mailed to Australia for private use. The following items are restricted:
- eggs and egg products
- dairy products
- uncanned meat
- seeds and nuts
- fresh fruit and vegetables
Commercial importers of food such as fresh fruit and vegetables or food containing milk, egg, meat or other animal products will need to obtain an import permit prior to importing the food. You can do initial checks for biosecurity requirements by searching the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) . For more information contact Imports:
Phone: 1800 900 090 (+61 3 8318 6700 from outside Australia)
Like food that is produced domestically, food that is imported into Australia must meet Australian food standards. The monitoring of imported food is a responsibility shared across many government agencies, including those at local, state, territory and federal levels.
The food regulatory system in Australia
Policy decisions about food are made by the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) which is chaired by the Minister for Health. The Forum , which includes Ministers for each state and territory government and the New Zealand government, receives policy advice from the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC). This committee is chaired by the Department of Health. Relevant officials from state and territory and New Zealand food regulatory agencies are also represented on this committee.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is the government body responsible for developing and maintaining the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Australian law requires all food to meet the food safety standards set out in the Food Standards Code. The Food Standards Code applies to all food offered for sale in Australia, whether produced domestically or imported.
FSANZ monitors food safety incidents worldwide and provides advice to the department on monitoring and testing imported food. FSANZ advises the department when food poses a medium-high risk to human health and on appropriate testing. It also provides risk assessment advice to state and territory regulators, who are responsible for monitoring all food at point of sale, including imported food.
More information about the food regulation system in Australia.
The department's role in the monitoring of imported food
The department's role to monitor imported food is part of a broader food regulatory system as discussed above.
Food entering Australia is subject to the Imported Food Control Act 1992, which provides for the inspection and control of imported food using a risk-based border inspection program, the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS). FSANZ advises the department on food that poses a medium or high risk to human health and safety, with the department classifying this food as risk for inspection under the IFIS.
Role of state and territory authorities
In addition to the inspection activity undertaken at the border, state and territory authorities have responsibility for monitoring all food, including imported food, that is available for sale. Each state and territory authority has its own food legislation, which is based on the national Model Food Act developed by FSANZ and endorsed by the forum. State and territory action on food is different from, but complementary to, that which occurs under the IFIS. On matters involving imported foods that has not been inspected or that have been found later not to be compliant, FSANZ, this department and the state and territory authorities work closely to address them.
Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA)
Under the Imported Food Control Act 1992, surveillance foods from New Zealand are exempt from the IFIS as these come under the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA).
The only New Zealand food subject to the IFIS at the border are those classified as risk . Equivalence determination of food safety systems covering dairy products was reached in 2007 and seafood, uncooked pig meat, chicken meat, coconut, pepper, paprika, peanuts and pistachios were aligned in 2011. This enabled these products to be brought under the TTMRA and removed the requirement for border inspection for these products.