About the food regulation system

Australia and New Zealand have a joint system to make our food safe to eat. The key ministers and government agencies develop, implement and enforce mandatory food standards. They work with industry, consumers and other key stakeholders to protect public health and safety.

What is the food regulation system

The joint Australia and New Zealand food regulation system is made up of the policies, standards and laws that make our food safe to eat.  

All levels of government in Australia and New Zealand and a wide range of stakeholders have a role in the system.   

Who is involved

The key government agencies and ministers in the food regulation system include the:

Stakeholders and partners – including consumers, the food industry and experts – also play a role. They help to identify and prioritise the role of food regulation.

How the food regulation system works

The system includes processes to: 

View the agreements and laws that set out how the system works in Australia and New Zealand.

Aims of the food regulation system

The aims of the system are to: 

  • protect the health and safety of consumers  

  • enable consumers to make informed choices about food  

  • support public health 

  • support a strong, sustainable food industry to provide:  

    • a diverse and affordable food supply 

    • economic benefits to Australia and New Zealand.

To achieve these aims, we work to: 

  • reduce food-related risks 

  • ensure consumers have the information they need and are not misled 

  • promote healthy food choices 

  • maintain and enhance the nutritional qualities of food

  • respond to public health concerns 

  • reduce the burden of compliance on the food sector 

  • align Australian, New Zealand and international food standards 

  • make it cost effective to comply with food standards.

The overriding priority is to protect public health and safety. 

Approach to food regulation

Regulation is not always the best or only way to achieve the above aims. The food regulation system considers the broader context of food issues and the most appropriate tools to address them.

Broader context

We consider the priority of food issues in the context of broader strategies, such as those for:

  • public health

  • animal and plant health

  • food industry development

  • international cooperation in food safety.

We consider:

  • what role food regulation can or should play in these strategies

  • if these strategies can resolve the food issue, with or without food regulation

  • if and how we can work with other organisations to resolve food issues.

Appropriate tools

We also consider whether regulation is the most appropriate tool to address food issues, using the principles of good regulation. These principles require us to be:

  • efficient – use a level of regulation that resolves food issues with minimal cost and impact on competition

  • effective – make regulation that is flexible and has clear outcomes, and that people can comply with and enforce

  • equitable – ensure the regulation process is clear, transparent and fair.

Regulation includes the adoption of food standards. Where regulation is not appropriate, we consider non-regulatory tools. These include: 

Overarching strategy

To find out more about this approach to regulation, see the overarching strategy.

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