Food agreements and laws

A range of agreements and laws set out how the joint food regulation system works. The food standards are given legal effect by the food law in New Zealand and the state and territory food laws in Australia.

Joint food agreements and laws

Food standards treaty

A 1995 treaty between the governments of Australia and New Zealand committed both countries to joint food standards.

Under this treaty, New Zealand joined Australia’s food standards system.

New Zealand:

  • shares the Food Standards Code for food labelling and food products for sale
  • has its own laws for the production and processing of food and some food safety requirements
  • can opt out of any food standard it considers inappropriate.

View the treaty document – Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand Concerning a Joint Food Standards System. It has been updated several times since it was first signed in 1995.

Food Standards Code

The standards in the Food Standards Code are legislative instruments. They have legal effect when adopted by:

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is the statutory authority responsible for developing the code. It operates under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991.

Previously, the National Food Authority in Australia developed national food standards under the National Food Authority Act 1991. These were superseded by FSANZ and the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991.

Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement

Under this agreement, most food and food products that may be legally sold in Australia may also be sold in New Zealand, even if there are differences in standards or requirements. The opposite also applies. View the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.

Australian food agreements and laws

Food Regulation Agreement

The Australian Government and the state and territory governments updated the Food Regulation Agreement in 2010. First signed in 2000, the agreement:

  • takes a national approach to food regulation in Australia
  • includes Model Food Provisions – Annex A and Annex B – that reference the Food Standards Code.

It commits the states and territories to:

  • base their food laws on the Model Food Provisions for consistency
  • include changes to the Food Standards Code in their food laws.

State and territory food acts

These laws give legal effect to the Food Standards Code:

Under these laws, food businesses must comply with the food standards.

Other laws that apply to food in Australia 

Other laws that apply to food include:

New Zealand food laws

The Food Act 2014 in New Zealand gives legal effect to the Food Standards Code.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is responsible for food safety in New Zealand. Visit their website to find out about other food safety legislation in New Zealand.

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