Tests for imported food

Wednesday, 17 November, 2004

Overseas food producers and manufacturers wanting to export to Australia are now responsible for nominating a laboratory for testing their foods and for providing the packaging for samples drawn from their foods.

The new system follows AQIS's introduction of its new laboratory service and represents a significant change to the testing procedures for samples of imported foods.

AQIS and food industry representatives have worked together to create this fully contestable laboratory service and have distributed notices to the industry to make the switch to the new system as smooth as possible.

The most recent notice - Imported Food Notice 30/04 - incorporates links to all of these documents so they can be found more easily.

The notice also clarifies the responsibilities of each interested party; for example, AQIS will continue to have responsibility for inspecting food and for drawing samples, while laboratories will be responsible for picking up samples from an AQIS collection point at a specified time and for preserving the integrity of the samples.

Importers will be responsible for nominating their preferred testing laboratory and for providing sample packaging material. Full details regarding the responsibilities of each stakeholder group are outlined in the Imported Food Notice.

One of the recent amendments to the Imported Food Control Act 1992 relates to labelling offences.

The amendment gives importers the opportunity to check the labelling of the food they import and, if necessary, correct labelling before selling the food or before it is inspected by AQIS officers under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme.

Information about food labelling requirements can be found in the Food Standards Code, which is available on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) website: www.foodstandards.gov.au

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