Foreword for Imported Food Control Act Review

The Imported Food Control Act Review has occurred at a time when food regulation in Australia and the implementation of food safety practices are undergoing major changes. At the same time, world trade in processed foodstuffs is growing rapidly, food processing techniques are changing, and there is increasing consumer concern about food safety. With Australians now consuming about ten percent of their food from overseas sources, ensuring the safety of overseas-produced food is an important consideration for the food importing and processing industries, government, and of course, consumers. Not surprisingly, the Review has attracted wide interest and our task has been assisted by the many constructive suggestions put forward about how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

As a National Competition Policy Review, the Committee closely examined the costs and benefits to the community as a whole of the Imported Food Control Act. Early in our deliberations, we decided that it would be necessary to consider not only the legislation but also how the legislation is administered. In developing our recommendations, the Committee was also cognisant of the need for the Act to be consistent with Australia's international obligations and trade objectives, and to be compatible with recent advances in food technology and food safety.

The Committee concluded that the best way to minimise costs to industry, while ensuring that imported food complies with Australia's public health and food standards, is through a co-regulatory or partnership approach between industry and government. We believe that the recommendations put forward in the Report will lower costs to industry while providing the basis for a more effective and efficient imported food safety system. This system will be more flexible and so able to respond to the dynamic food safety environment. The Review Committee members unanimously support all the recommendations presented in this Report.

Finally, the Committee wishes to acknowledge the professionalism and enthusiasm of the Secretariat, led by Hilary Cuerden-Clifford, and to thank them for their hard work during the course of the Review.

Carolyn Tanner
Imported Food Control Act Review
30 November 1998

Last reviewed:
23 Apr 2007