The Imported Food Control Amendment Act 2018 received royal assent on 21 September 2018. It amended the Imported Food Control Act 1992 to improve the monitoring of imported food for compliance with the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code and the requirements of public health and safety.
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The Government has strengthened Australia’s imported food monitoring through legislative changes affecting the operation of the Imported Food Inspection Scheme. The changes:
- 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 help ensure the Imported Food Inspection Scheme is able to more effectively manage imported food safety risk.
Strengthening the imported food safety system
The 2018 amendments to the Imported Food Control Act 1992:
- require a food safety management certificate for particular kinds of imported food where additional food safety assurance is required
- currently there are no foods listed in the Imported Food Control Order 2001 requiring a food safety management certificate.
- 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.
Food Importers are encouraged to subscribe to Imported Food Notices to receive updates on operational changes to the Imported Food Inspection Scheme.
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.
Download the food importer survey report
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