A recent Food Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) found that the existing Food Standards Code and labelling requirements are appropriate for Australian- and New Zealand-made ‘synthetic’ animals products.
The findings follow a request made to the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) in 2019 to consider regulatory and labelling issues for ‘synthetic foods’, with a view to developing a policy guideline to adequately differentiate these products from their conventional counterparts.
At the most recent FMM meeting, held on 25 November in Melbourne, it was determined that the existing approval process and labelling requirements are sufficient for foods produced via cell culture or precision fermentation.
It was also determined that the term ‘synthetic’ should be replaced with more accurate and descriptive terms.
Summarising the meeting’s conclusions, a communique of outcomes reads:
At today’s meeting, the FMM:
- Affirmed FSANZ’s view that foods produced by cell culture and precision fermentation will be captured within existing standards in the (Food Standards) Code and require pre-market approval under Standard 1.5.1 Novel foods and Standard 1.5.2 Foods produced using gene technology.
- Affirmed that food produced by cell culture or precision fermentation is subject to the existing labelling requirements in the Code and Australian Consumer Law.
- Agreed that the term ‘synthetic foods’ is now too broad to usefully describe this area of food innovation, and therefore should now be referred to in more precise descriptive terms such as cell culture, precision fermentation or descriptors appropriate to other new technologies that may emerge.
- Accepted advice from FRSC that at this time, ministerial policy guidelines are not required as the food regulation system in Australia and New Zealand is equipped to deal with new types of food, including foods produced by new technologies.
To read the document in full, click here.
Food Ministers will continue to monitor the need for additional standards based on the number and nature of applications received from cell based and precision fermentation companies.
Ministers with responsibility for food will meet again in the first half of 2023.
The FMM is chaired by Ged Kearney MP and comprises all Australian and New Zealand Ministers responsible for food. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Chair and CEO attended the meeting as observers.