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Introduction

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) Confectionery Sector has established the need to raise awareness regarding the requirement of legal compliance, both in terms of product composition and labelling for domestic, imported and parallel imported confectionery.

Product and labelling compliance are mandatory requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). 

This Code is adopted as the required standard for food produced in New Zealand and  by the Australian states and territories in relation to food sold and/or imported into both countries under the following Acts:

Food Act 1981 (New Zealand)
Food Act 1984 (Victoria)
Food Act 2001 (Australian Capital Territory)
Food Act 2001 (South Australia)
Food Act 2003 (New South Wales)
Food Act 2003 (Tasmania)
Food Act 2004 (Northern Territory) 
Food Act 2006 (Queensland)
Food Act 2008 (Western Australia)
Imported Food Control Act 1992 (Commonwealth)

The Code is enforced by Australian state and territory and New Zealand agencies and for imported food by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in combination with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. It is a shared role.

It is the Ai Group Confectionery Sector's aim that imported confectionery meets the same regulatory requirements as confectionery products manufactured locally, in particular to the same health and safety requirements, so as to protect consumers. Consumer health and safety is paramount, including when it comes to allergens. Many imported confectionery products, especially parallel imported products, are not correctly labelled. For example, they may not provide allergen declarations; may not be in English; may not provide Australian or New Zealand supplier contact details for the importer or distributor; or may not have correct weight declarations.

Food labelling and advertising

Food labelling informs the consumer about the food that is offered for sale. It must be visible, unambiguous and not mislead the consumer. Unpacked foods are exempt from most labelling requirements; however, the consumer must be provided with certain information. Some labelling exemptions apply to packaged foods. 

For further details see the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code:http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx

Information on food labels

Food may not be safe to eat if it is not labelled in the correct way, or has ingredients not allowed in food sold in Australia or New Zealand.

Food importers must make sure the food they import only contains ingredients and additives that are permitted in Australia and New Zealand. These details should be confirmed by getting product information through the supplier, who may be overseas. Care should be taken when importing confectionery as some products may have been made and packaged for sale outside of Australia and New Zealand.  

Having the correct label on food also means food may be recalled if there are risks to consumers who eat it; for example, if there is an undeclared allergen. It is very difficult to trace a parallel import, in the event of a recall, if the local supplier details are omitted - this poses significant risk to consumers and the business responsible for the food.

In addition to meeting these requirements, the responsible manufacturer/importer must have an adequate track and trace system to handle recalls if they become necessary and also obey all Mandatory Reporting criteria as defined by the product safety requirements of Australian Consumer Law 2010 - regulated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

For mandatory reporting details see: http://www.productsafety.gov.au/product-safety-laws/legislation/mandatory-reporting

As a general summary, the food label must include:

  • a name for the food or product descriptor;
  • the lot identification;
  • the name and street address in Australia or New Zealand of the supplier of the food (ie manufacturer, importer or marketer);
  • a list of the ingredients, including allergen declarations;
  • date marking (ie 'best before' or 'use by');
  • directions for use and storage, if required for health and safety to ensure shelf life is achieved
  • the nutrition information panel;
  • characterising ingredients and components;
  • the country of origin; and
  • mandatory warnings and advisory statements.

As well as the Food Standards Code requirements, national measurement requirements specify a legible weight statement on the main front display panel.

Weights and measures declarations are regulated by the Australian National Measurement Institute and the New Zealand Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

The main laws covering trade measurement in Australia are the National Measurement Act and the National Trade Measurement Regulations.

Australian National Measurement Institute Website: www.measurement.gov.au and www.measurement.gov.au/trademeasurement

New Zealand Ministry of Consumer Affairs Website: www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/

In Australia, the ACCC enforces the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. In New Zealand, the Commerce Commission is responsible for enforcing the Fair Trading Act 1981.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Website: www.accc.gov.au/

New Zealand Commerce Commission Website: www.comcom.govt.nz/

Food Import Compliance Agreement notifications

Food Import Compliance Agreements (FICAs) offer food manufacturers an alternative regulatory arrangement to inspection and testing of their products under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS). Compliance arrangements are an assurance-based arrangement undertaken through formal recognition and audit of an importers' documented food safety management system by the Department of Agriculture. 

Importers under this collaborative compliance agreement must report non-compliant analytical test results to the Department, which will then consider what further action is needed. 

For further details see: www.agriculture.gov.au

Ai Group Confectionery Sector Compliance Campaign

The Ai Group Confectionery Sector is seeking the support of industry to ensure confectionery product compliance in the marketplace.

To support these activities the Ai Group Confectionery Sector asks industry members and non-members to be vigilant, including surveillance of the marketplace to examine products to determine whether they fully comply with all Australian laws. 

We hope that your activity may extend to the mobilisation of your team in the field. As they go about their regular business activities, they are ideally placed to keep watch on the market as 'the eyes on the ground'.  

For product non-compliance reports, assistance and/or information please contact the Ai Group Confectionery Sector Technical & Regulatory Manager on 03 9867 0181 or email: jennifer.thompson@aigroup.com.au

Making a complaint

The Ai Group is not an enforcement agency; nevertheless, we strongly advocate compliance and encourage self-regulation. We also encourage industry to audit the marketplace and assist where appropriate as the industry deals with concerns about non-compliance. 

In liaison with the Ai Group Confectionery Sector Technical & Regulatory Manager, industry should direct complaints about potentially non-compliant confectionery to the relevant agency in Australia or in New Zealand.

Steps:

  • Seek remedial action against non-compliant goods, by either:
    • communicating with the businesses responsible for selling, distributing, importing or producing the goods; and/or
    • alerting the relevant authorities (Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, state and territory enforcement authorities, National Measurement Institute (NMI) or local councils) to the irregularities.
  • We encourage you to send evidence of non-compliant cases to Jennifer Thompson, Technical & Regulatory Manager in the Ai Group Confectionery Sector (Level 2, 441 St Kilda Road, Melbourne Vic 3004 or by email to jennifer.thompson@aigroup.com.au) to support the industry's continued understanding of the scope of the issue.
  • Continually audit the marketplace and monitor the market following steps 1 and 2 above.
  • Following steps 1 and 2, if not satisfied with the outcome, members should seek Ai Group's assistance with relevant authority(s), providing details of the confectionery breach(es), together with sample and purchasing details.

Authority contact details

For compliance with the Food Standards Code

Refer confectionery breaches pertaining to public health and safety and compliance with the Food Standards Codeto state and territory or New Zealand jurisdictions and/or local council environmental health officers (EHOs).

The link below provides Australian state, territory food enforcement contacts, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and New Zealand agencies for reporting complaints. 

www.foodstandards.gov.au/about/foodenforcementcontacts

Note: Reporting is made to the 'home' state/territory. This is where the business responsible for the product operates i.e. importer's or manufacturer's business location. While your business may be located in Sydney, the non-compliant operators' business might be in Brisbane - in this instance, Brisbane is the 'home' state where the complaint would be directed.

For Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR)

After first contacting the relevant state/territory or New Zealand jurisdiction, to inform DAWR of imported food breaches that may not have been identified at the border, use the DAWR email info@agriculture.gov.au or telephone +61 (0) 2 6272 5488.

See also: www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/importedfoods and www.agriculture.gov.au/import/goods/food

For Department of Immigration and Border Protection

www.border.gov.au/Busi

Additionally, if companies become aware of illegal confectionery product about to enter Australia (mostly not feasible) they should alert the Intellectual Property Rights Group via email on iprights@border.gov.au. Three days' notice is required for Immigration and Border Protection to intercept the arrival.

The border force will examine what action needs to be taken, which may include referring responsibility to DAWR or Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Notification after the fact would also help, although confectionery is generally considered a low risk product.

Referrals for border protection may also be made following the formal process. Whether the issue is a breach of the Commerce Trade Description Act 1905 (CTDA), Commerce (Imports) Regulations 1940 (CI Regs) (for labelling) or Notice of Objection (intellectual property), form B253 - Intellectual property and commerce labelling referral details should be used and emailed to iprights@border.gov.au

A copy of the B253 form is available on the Immigration and Border Protection website: www.border.gov.au/Busi/Cust shortly.

For weights and measures

Industry can lodge a complaint to the National Measurement Institute (NMI) either via the hotline,  online, or by emailing:

1. Hotline: 1300 NTM NMI (1300 686 664); or
2. Link: http://www.measurement.gov.au/trademeasurement/pages/EnquiriesandComplaints.aspx; or
3. Email: infotm@measurement.gov.au
or
4. Contact: Malcolm Bartlett, Manager Trade Measurement Services by email:malcolm.bartlett@measurement.gov.au.

Information required

  • Product identification details (brand, name, pack size, best before date, manufacturer and/or distributor/importer details, lot identification and country of origin);
  • Purchase details (retail store name and address, date of purchase including receipt if possible);
  • Non-conformance description (undeclared allergens, no English language, no importer/suppliers name and address details, no country of origin declaration, no weight statement, etc);
  • Evidence of the market and business impact (estimated quantity, price);
  • Your contact details (name, address, telephone number). Personal details are necessary to confirm the compliant validity and are kept confidential from the food business unless you expressly advise otherwise;
  • A picture of the product always helps; and
  • Any other comments.

For assistance and information please contact the Ai Group Confectionery Sector Technical & Regulatory Manager Jennifer Thompson on 03-98670181; or email: jennifer.thompson@aigroup.com.au

More information

Note

This information is general and cannot cover all situations. Food businesses are required to fully comply with all Australian and New Zealand laws, respectively, including with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code; the relevant Food Act in their state or territory; Australian Consumer Law contained in the Australian Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and the New Zealand Fair Trading Act; Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection requirements of the Commerce Trade Description Act 1905 and the Commerce (Imports) Regulations 1940; and DAWR provisions in the Imported Food Control Act 1992 for imported foods and trade measurement requirements.

 

Last updated: 25 January 2016