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Minimum food regulation: maximum health & safety



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To: Political editor Media Monitors

TRALI AN FOO D C O U N C I L

Friday, December 11, 1998

MEDIA RELEA SE

36:98

M IN IM U M FOOD REGULATION MAXIMUM HEALTH & SAFETY

Statement by Mr Mitchell H Hooke, Australian Food Council, Executive Director

“Current hype in the media about the integrity and j egitimacy of Australia’s food regulations is ‘kindergarten stuff. The question of nyr^taiid^ds^or food is a ‘furphy’. Those ‘carping’ from the sidelines should look to the veracity of their arguments, and not blame Government for their inability to mount a credible case.

“The Standard by Standard Review of Australia’s Food Standards was orchestrated by the former Federal Labor Government, with bipartisan support Federally and across all State and Territory Governments, to address unnecessary, inefficient and inconsistent regulation and overzealous intrusion in food standards.

“There is no argument with industry in ensuring that public health and safety has, and should have, primacy of consideration in all food regulation. Food safety is simply non negotiable in the market. Consumers expect it—we should deliver nothing less. Governments should ensure we do.

“To this end, the AFC has strongly advocated minimum, but effective regulation.

“Consumers don’t want to pay for unnecessary regulation and business doesn’t want it as a leadweight to their international competitiveness.

“The AFC has strongly argued for minimally prescriptive food standards that ensure the safety and integrity of our food and drink products and that requires meaningful information be provided on labels that is not false or misleading.

“The recent ‘media hype* centred on allegations that imply that amendments to Food Standards will compromise the safety and identity of food and beverage products is simply wrong.

“The chocolate standard is a case in point—the AFC supports a minimally prescriptive Standard which would retain the integral ingredient of chocolate, a necessary minimum requirement of 20 per cent cocoa, with or without sugar and milk products and no more than 5% of other foods. We are optimistic that the Australia New Zealand Food Authority

(ANZFA) review of its chocolate Standard will conclude along similar lines.

“The Review of the Food Standards Code involves a full and open public consultation in which any person or organisation can make submissions on the proposals of the ANZFA and the participation of independent experts in project teams addressing the Standard by Standard Review".

The ultimate aims of the Food Standards Code, as written into Federal law are: ■ the protection of public health and safety; ■ the provision of adequate information relating to food to enable consumers to make informed decisions and to prevent fraud and deception;

■ the promotion of fair trading in food; ■ the promotion of trade and commerce in the food industry; and • the promotion of consistency between domestic and international food standards where these are in variance.

Ends.

The Australian Food Council is the peak body representing Australia’s consumer food and drink companies.

Contact: Mitchell H Hooke, AFC Executive Director or Lina Melero, Public Affairs Director on (02) 62731466 or 0417 667169