The Government has strengthened Australia’s imported food safety system to better protect Australians from imported food safety and health risks. Improvements have been made through legislative changes affecting the operation of the Imported Food Inspection Scheme. The changes will:
- increase importers accountability for food safety
- increase importers sourcing safe food
- improve monitoring and management of new and emerging food safety risks
- improve incident response.
The changes will help ensure the Imported Food Inspection Scheme is able to respond to the potential risks posed by the growing complexity of globalised food supply chains and increasing consumer demand for imported food.
Strengthening the imported food safety system
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. Further communication relating to the requirement of a food safety management certificate for particular food types will take place if one is determined to be required.
- 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 authority to require a food safety management certificates for certain types of food will only come into effect after 12 months
- the differentiated enforcement provisions become enforceable after 28 days.
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.
Developing the changes
The changes were developed in consultation with food importers, industry representatives, domestic food regulators, the Australian public and Australia’s trading partners. This consultation included:
- a food importer survey, focusing on research into food importer compliance, awareness and importer behaviour and an analysis of the costs and benefits of the changes being introduced. The Food Importer Research report is available below.
- a regulation impact statement (RIS) where feedback from the Australian public and trading partners was sought on the imported food changes. Download the final decision RIS from the Office of Best Practice Regulation.
Thank you to everyone who contributed by providing feedback or making a submission.
Download the food importer survey report
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