Guide for laboratories applying for appointment as an analyst

​If you are considering applying for an appointment as a food analyst, first you will need to understand the requirements, systems and schemes managed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

These include:

  • the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS) and the testing of imported foods
  • the conditions of appointment
  • the department’s electronic import system

Steps to becoming an appointed analyst

The steps to becoming an appointed analyst under the Imported Food Control Act 1992 are as follows:

Fill in the application form

Laboratories are subject to all conditions outlined in Conditions for appointment as an analyst. If your laboratory can meet these conditions then fill out the ‘Application to become an Appointed Analyst’ and the blank ‘Testing Capability Matrix’ application. These documents can be downloaded at Food testing requirements for appointed analysts.

Check your software will be compatible with the department’s electronic result reporting system

Check with your IT division to see if eResults specifications and software is viable for your organisation. eResults system requirements and specifications documents (three documents) are available on Food testing requirements for appointed analysts. If eResults is feasible then complete the application.

Use of sub–contracting services

There is an opportunity for appointed analysts to sub–contract specified testing to other appointed analysts and this must be disclosed via the ‘Testing Capability Matrix’ application. Laboratories cannot sub–contract all testing. The sub–contracted laboratory must also be an appointed analyst and must have the NATA scope of accreditation for the food/analyse combination and ensure that all sub–contracting is in accordance with ISO17025. Appointed analysts must keep the department informed of changes to sub–contracting arrangements.

Submit the application

Scan completed forms and email them to Imported Food Enquiries. Ensure the forms are completed correctly or they will be returned. Once you have been advised that your application is acceptable, you will be advised to liaise with the department IT team (email eResultsAdmin) to initiate eResults testing between the Import Management System (AIMS) and your IT system.

Once eResults testing is successfully completed a letter of appointment and a copy of ‘Instrument of Appointment and Schedule' will be sent to you confirming your appointment as an analyst. Testing can then begin.

Food testing – information for food importers will be updated to include your laboratory details.

Imported Food Inspection Scheme

Imported Food Legislation

The Imported Food Control Act 1992 (the Act) authorises imported food officers to inspect and sample food for testing under the inspection scheme. The compliance of imported food is regulated at the border through risk–based targeting of food for end point inspection and analysis.

The Imported Food Control Regulations 1993 detail how the imported food inspection arrangements operate, and the Imported Food Control Order 2001 details the food commodities classified by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) as ‘risk’ with respect to their potential risk to human health and safety.

Section 34 of the Act requires the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources or a delegate, to appoint a laboratory as an appointed analyst for the purposes of analysing food samples.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) is a collection of individual food standards developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The Code has the force of law. It is an offence in Australia and New Zealand to supply food which does not comply with relevant food standards, and a criminal offence in Australia to supply unsafe food.

Imported Food Inspection Scheme

The Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS) monitors imported food for compliance with Australia’s food standards. Inspections are carried out by authorised imported food officers in conjunction with any applicable biosecurity requirements. The principal focus of the IFIS is on food safety.

Imported Food Notices

Imported Food Notices (IFNs) provide information to our stakeholders. The relevant IFNs for food categories are to be referenced in order to know the specific foods to which tests are applied.

Laboratory Nomination Form

The importer or agent is required to nominate an appointed analyst prior to booking an inspection by using the laboratory nomination form. The importer or agent will complete the laboratory nomination form and forward it to their nominated laboratory. The laboratory can accept the nomination by completing the ‘Laboratory use only’ section of the form and forwarding it to the relevant regional office. An inspection cannot be booked until the department receives this form.

Imported food inspection process

The imported food officer will conduct a visual and label inspection. If required, samples may also be taken for analysis.The importer will be advised which tests apply and the samples will then be taken to the collection point by the imported food officer. It is the responsibility of the nominated laboratory to arrange for the courier to collect the samples from the collection point and transport them to the laboratory. The importer is advised whether the rest of their goods will need to remain on hold, or if they can be released.

Imported Food Inspection Report

All food inspected under the Act will have an imported food inspection report (IFIR), also known as EX317, completed at the time of inspection by the imported food officer. The IFIR identifies if foods are to be held or released and is a record of information to identify the food that was sampled, the tests to be applied and other administrative information.

The samples are placed in a tamper evident bag which has a unique bar code. A copy of the bar code will be placed on the IFIR which must accompany the sample bag to the appointed analyst. If the IFIR is not present, is incomplete or illegible or the barcode does not correspond the analyst should contact the relevant regional office.

Below is an example of the IFIR. The arrow indicates where the imported food officer will record the “Tests Required” by the analyst

Imported food inspection report (blank) 

Agriculture Import Management System (AIMS)

What is AIMS?

When an entry is lodged with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Integrated Cargo System (ICS) and is identified as requiring inspection, the ICS will send details of that entry to AIMS. The AIMS system contains all relevant information relating to each entry and all the information recorded on the IFIR is also entered into AIMS. A copy of the IFIR will be attached to the food sample which the analyst will need to use to ensure results can be successfully reported to the AIMS system.

Figure 1A – Laboratory Registration Details Screen in AIMS

Laboratory Registration Details Screen in AIMS 

The results are reported via eResults to the AIMS system. The information will appear in the AIMS ‘Test & Results Details Screen’

Figure 1B – Test and Result Details Screen

Test and Result Details screen 

An imported food officer will use the results to determine if the food is a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’.

The eResults External Code Requirements are used by the appointed analyst to set up their reporting system.

eResults – electronic messaging

eResults is the electronic transfer of sample information and the results of analysis from the appointed analysts to the department. This includes the electronic transfer of analysts’ details, the tests applied to samples and the results of analysis. Appointed analysts are required to use the eResults system to report results of analysis electronically. This is achieved by laboratories developing an IT system which is capable of sending email messages containing attachments.

The attachments consist of formatted XML which is compatible with the eResults database. The eResults database will interpret the XML data and apply it to AIMS.

Note: The relevant eResults documents on Food testing requirements for appointed analysts will assist you in developing this capability. If you require further assistance with setting up eResults please contact AIMS administration.

Last reviewed: 29 September 2020
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