IFN 10-18 - Strengthening the imported food safety system

13 September 2018

Purpose

The purpose of the notice is to advise importers and brokers about the passage of the Imported Food Control Amendment Bill 2017 (Bill) through the Australian Parliament.

What has changed?

The Bill amends the Imported Food Control Act 1992. The amendments will strengthen the current risk-based management approach of imported food safety to better protect the health of consumers while reducing the regulatory burden for compliant food importers.

The Bill amends the Imported Food Control Act 1992 to:

  • require a food safety management certificate for food where at-border testing alone is insufficient to provide assurance of food safety
    • there are currently no foods requiring a food safety management certificate listed in the Imported Food Control Order 2001
  • require all importers to provide documents on request, demonstrating the traceability of imported food, one step forward and one step backward along the food supply chain
  • establish differentiated enforcement provisions that are consistent with state and territory government food safety legislation (where applicable to imported food)
  • broaden Australia’s emergency powers to allow food to be held at the border for up to 28 days where there is uncertainty about the safety of a particular food
  • capacity to monitor and manage new and emerging imported food risks through the application of a variable rate of inspection or inspection and analysis for a period of up to six months
  • enable recognition of a foreign country’s food safety regulatory system where there is equivalence with Australia’s food safety system. Food imported from these countries will be subject to a reduced rate of inspection.

Timing of the changes

The amendments outlined above become effective once the Bill becomes law, except for the following:

  • food importers will have 12 months to adjust business practices before the new documentary evidence and traceability requirements become enforceable
  • the differentiated enforcement provisions become enforceable after 28 days.

Further information

Further information on the changes to the imported food safety system are available on the department’s website.

Food Importers are encouraged to subscribe to Imported Food Notices to receive updates on the operational changes to the Imported Food Inspection Scheme to reflect the legislative changes listed above.

Further inquiries can be made by emailing Imported Food Inquiries.