Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson today represented New Zealand at the Forum on Food Regulation in Melbourne to consider the Forum’s response to the Independent Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy.
“I welcome the Forum’s response, which follows considerable work over the past year to consider how the report’s recommendations should be addressed,” Ms Wilkinson says.
“The Forum is a gathering of Ministers from all Australian States and Territories, the Australian Commonwealth Government and New Zealand. There are, as you would expect, a diverse range of views around the table and there is always a robust debate.
“The Forum has agreed to begin a collaborative process with the food industry to improve front of pack nutrition and ingredient labelling.
“It’s important that we work with industry to produce a system that delivers the information consumers need without saddling New Zealand businesses and households with extra costs.
“It was agreed to proceed with the development of a new voluntary labelling system, with work to be completed by December 2012.
“New Zealand has voiced its concerns that a 12 month timeframe is unrealistic given it is a complicated issue and I would be interested to hear from industry on this matter.”
The Forum also discussed the development of a standard to permit and regulate health claims on food products. Ms Wilkinson says she welcomes the Forum’s decision to direct FSANZ to release the latest draft of the standard for broad consultation.
“The health claims standard has been under development for more than 10 years. It is a complex area, and so it is important that stakeholders have the opportunity to identify any problems before the standard is considered by Ministers for decision in June 2012.
“Health warnings on alcohol labels about the risks of drinking when pregnant were also discussed and the Forum agreed that industry be given an opportunity to voluntarily introduce appropriate labelling over the next two years.”