It’s not your fault that you find it so hard to find navigate the supermarket shelves!
When you look at the state of our regulatory system objectively it is not a surprise! There are so many things that are inherently broken!
A chance to reform our food regulation system!
In November 2019, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (Form) endorsed a plan to reform the Bi-national Food Regulation System to ensure it remains strong, robust and agile into the future. A key element underpinning the reform agenda was the review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (FSANZ Act).
This review included a comprehensive examination of the effectiveness of the FSANZ Act and reviewed the associated operation and responsibility of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). Stakeholders were asked for their views on the Scoping Paper. The scoping paper outlined the key issues identified with the FSANZ Act and opportunities for legislative and operational reform.
Additive Free Kids Community have their say
As you can imagine, as a collective community, we relished the chance to be able to provide our views. over a few weeks, surveys were developed to garner the options, thoughts and contributions from all our community members. A huge effort!
There were Top 5 key messages that we wanted the Forum to take note of. I have detailed them below very briefly for you. The key themes in our submission were:
1) Consumers first
The key issue that government needs to address through regulation of food is the health of the consumer. We have seen that when industry interests are put first, profits trump health all the time. This includes reviewing the definition of food. FSANZ needs to be free from industry influence. The Board needs to have representatives from true consumer based advocacy organisations that are in touch with consumer on a daily basis and understand consumer concerns.
Manufacturers are not held accountable for their actions. There are issues in terms of enforcement of the Act. FSANZ should be responsible for consistent enforcement across Australia and New Zealand, not relying on a multitude of institutional arrangements instigated by state and territory governments (for enforcement within Australia) and Minister for Primary Industries (for enforcement in New Zealand).
Food fraud is rife. Manufacturers are able to deceive consumers by passing off inferior ingredients as wholesome and fresh. Consumers rely on reading the ingredients label and front of pack labels and these are grossly inadequate to make informed decisions. Manufacturers are able to do this as there is no consequence for their actions. There is a lack of accountability. Our members want full disclosure so that they can make informed decisions.
FSANZ should be given the appropriate enforcement capabilities to ensure its standards are met. We want our regulator to determine if there are false and misleading claims, food fraud and keep manufacturers accountable.
3) Transparency, it is our right
Consumers have the right to know what they are eating and want more information to make informed decisions. Whilst legislation is in place to provide information on potential allergen alerts, there is no protection for consumers that are allergic or intolerant to additives. This has highlighted issues for us as a community with consumer law and consumer protection. FSANZ should be given the powers to require this information is provided by manufacturers. Manufacturers are afforded protection at the expense of public health.
4) Definition of food to be revisited
The definition used by FSANZ is inadequate and allows any food that is presented as food to be sold –
“any substance or thing of a kind, used, or represented as being for use, for human consumption”.
It’s not your fault this is so tricky to navigate!! I believe a better definition of food, the conventional meaning would be “Any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth”. This needs to be revisited if we are serious about turning around the Australia’s health care crisis.
We need to return to basics, ensure our food is as close to nature as possible, with as minimal amount of processing. Only in this way will we see our National Health crisis reverse.
FSANZ needs to be independent, free from industry influence and profits. The current system is inherently flawed when industry drive FSANZ’s working agenda, applications and priorities. This means that FSANZ are unable to maintain an overarching independent and strategic position when it comes to maintaining a robust framework. This needs to be resolved and rectified.
There is so much more that was covered in the review. I could go on all day talking about how many things are broken with the current system and the absurdity of some of the reforms suggested. However, I just wanted to share the key themes that were included in the submission that was lodged on your behalf.
A huge thank you to the hundreds upon hundreds of Additive Free Kids Community members that contributed to the surveys. Let’s hope our voice is heard! I will keep you updated.
You can find our full submission here
and the submission of like minded organisations such a:
– Food intolerance Network
– Gene Ethics
– Friends of the Earth
What can you do in the mean time?
I have witnessed these reviews come and go over the years. Here we are more than a decade later and we haven’t moved forward a lot at all. This type of reform will take many years to come into effect. Just consider how much industry pressure there will be. The reform that is needed would cause a fake food industry to collapse. If there is genuine desire for reform, I expect this will need to be phased in gradually.
By the time it does, your children may have grown by then! If you would like to take responsibility for the health of your family and educate yourself so that you can make empowered decisions in the supermarket, starting today, I invite you to check out our Additive Free Advocates Membership program.
Frankie Bell is the Managing Director of Additive Free Kids, a food coach, mentor and is one of Australia’s leading activists against additives in foods.
Frankie is a mum to 5 boys and has personal experience working through the damaging effects of additives to resolve the multiple health issues and behavioural problems in her own children. It became Frankie’s purpose to help other families achieve the same improvements for their families.
These changes can be overwhelming, especially for time poor parents, Frankie has done all the hard work for families to ensure they have access to additive free food, anytime, anywhere. Additive Free Kids specialises in assisting families to live healthy lives free from additives. See how you can work together with Frankie here.