Food regulation

Food regulation that puts consumers first.
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  • Updated:12 Sep 2008

01 .Food regulation

Child on a shopping trolley

Latest news

CHOICE recently made a submission to the Productivity Commission Draft Research Report on The Annual Review of Regulatory Burdens on Business. Our submission discusses the role of food regulation in protecting public health and the need for better enforcement of health claims.

Read our submission here.

The issue

Food regulation has three objectives.

  • The protection of public health and safety.
  • the provision of adequate information relating to food to enable consumers to make informed choices.
  • The prevention of misleading and deceptive conduct.

Read more about the current food regulation system.

Since 2005 there have been a number of government reviews of food regulation and the way it is developed. In 2005, the Food Regulation Ministerial Council commissioned a review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) assessment and approval processes.

The 2005 Commonwealth Government report Rethinking Regulation made a number of recommendations about food regulation. In September 2006, the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) commenced a review of food regulation and in January 2007 the Commonwealth Government announced a review of food regulation.

What we want

CHOICE wants to ensure that consumers continue to have a voice in food regulation and policy development and that decision makers prioritise consumer interests and public health over the interests of the food industry. By better engaging consumers during the development of food regulation, regulators will be better able to meet the three objectives of food regulation.

In most cases, individual consumers can only have input by making a written submission during formal public consultation, yet very few consumers have the capacity to do this. Regulators must engage consumers in other ways, for example through consumer research or consumer advisory panels, in order for consumers to have meaningful input. In 2006, FSANZ established a Consumer Liaison Committee in an effort to increase consumer input into its decision making processes and has devoted more resources to consumer research.

CHOICE wants open and transparent processes for developing food policy and standards to ensure that stakeholders, including consumer and public health groups, can have input into decision-making and assess the evidence and basis for decisions. This will enhance consumer confidence in food regulation and the ability of regulation to protect public health and provide consumer information. CHOICE also wants a greater commitment to consumer engagement in food standard and policy development.

What we’ve done

CHOICE participates in consultation activities on the review of the FSANZ assessment and approval processes. Read our submissions and letters to the Ministerial Council members about the proposed changes.

In December 2006, CHOICE provided a submission to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission review of food regulation and intends to provide further comments during the second phase of public consultation on this review.

In 2007, CHOICE has:

  • made a submission to the Bethwaite Review – the Commonwealth review of food regulation - and met with Mr Mark Bethwaite to discuss our views on food regulation in Australia;
  • presented to the Senate Community Affairs Committee on the Food Standards Australian New Zealand Amendment Bill 2007 and provided two submissions on the Bill; and
  • made a submission to the VCEC on the Simplifying the Menu: Food Regulation in Victoria, the draft report in its inquiry.

What we’re doing

CHOICE is currently the only consumer organisation in Australia that represents the interests of consumers across a broad range of food policy and regulatory matters. We recognise the importance of ensuring that government processes protect the interests of consumers and will work to achieve a food regulatory system that places public health and consumer interests first.

CHOICE will continue to participate in reviews of food policy and regulation in order to ensure that consumer interests are given appropriate consideration. CHOICE also works with other public health groups such as the Public Health Association of Australia and the Cancer Council Australia, to ensure that the public health consequences are considered in the development of food policy and regulation processes.

CHOICE currently sits on a number of committees including the FSANZ Standard Development Advisory Committee on Nutrition Health and Related Claims and the FSANZ Consumer Liaison Committee.

What you can do

Keep up to date with our work on this issue — subscribe to CHOICE Campaigns Update (eNews)

More information

Submission: Additional comments on the FSANZ Amendment Bill 2007 (April 2007) 
Submission: Food Standards Australia New Zealand Amendment Bill 2007 (March 2007) 
Submission: Bethwaite Review of Food Regulation in Australia (March 2007) 
Submission: VCEC Inquiry into food regulation in Victoria (December 2006) 
Submission: Amendments to the FSANZ Act (April 2006) 
Letter: Amendments to the FSANZ Act (April 2006) 
Submission: Review of FSANZ assessment and approval processes (July 2005) 
Submission: Review of stakeholder consultation on food policy (October 2004)


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John's opinion:

  • Member since: 02 Jul 13
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6 MONTHS AGO | Ditto re the lightness of the article. There are several websites ranking on google that are not covered. And I would appreciated Choice doing what I quickly do to estimate coverage, i.e. using narrow criteria such as an exact age and height to get a count of all members of that subset within n km of a particular locality, which allows accurate extrapolation. Choice could then follow through by paying to contact a small percentage of members to check that they are real currently active individuals; this would be expensive for large numbers, but could check if the smaller websites are stuffing their database with fake accounts. This is the sort of stuff I would expect a consumer watchdog to do, instead of relying on the websites' reported figures.

An analysis of photos could figure out how many people use more than one website - there is nothing wrong with doing so, but it can mean that there is little point re being active on the smaller sites. You could also give more of a run down on demographics - e.g. RSVP seems more white collar, seemed OKcupid more blue collar. Personally, I've given up on PlentyOfFish, OKcupid (although I really like its concept), and eHarmony - they just didn't have who I wanted. The price of an RSVP stamp seems to dissuade time-wasting. The fact that they are cheaper in bulk perhaps encourages people to stay with the one account rather than proliferate accounts, which hopefully encourages honesty. RSVP seems to have won the critical mass war, although I could well imagine new paradigms such as enforcing honest self representation could allow market shifts. Thanks to Jane for raising - I also noticed has stuff on niche sites. Given that the wikipedia page listing dating sites seems to be dominated by vested interests, it would be great if Choice could provide moderation of members' reported experiences.

Another useful thing Choice could do is survey a representative sample of the population re their experiences, and report that.

Personally, I have found internet dating to be great - you get to think about compatibility before physical sexual attraction shuts down one's brain, so it has many of the advantages of the arranged marriages that have so long been the norm in most of the world. It might even lower the divorce rate. Reproduction is up there on Maslow's only shortly after oxygen, so it would be great if Choice could help us all do it more intelligently.



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Sarah's opinion:

  • Member since: 18 Feb 12
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6 MONTHS AGO | To be honest, I was expecting a little more from Choice than just a rundown of the prices and a few opinions or case studies. How about some thoughtful criticism?



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ileneni's opinion:

  • Member since: 28 Feb 14
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7 MONTHS AGO | I met my husband via internet dating. And I know other 7 steady couples that have met that way (5 mid 30's & 2 over 50's). I suppose the stigma is fading out. We now find houses, jobs and goods online. So it only makes sense. Having said that, I did meet someone who was lying and was actually married. Very sad as her wife called me so I was honest with her. So overall a good experience but 1 in 4 is dodgy but you just move on. My guess is in a pub 3 out of 4 is dodgy so my take is you are better off with internet dating.



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Michael Camilleri's opinion:

  • Member since: 28 Jun 13
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4 YEARS AGO | It's entirely clear here that $name is a very important thing. I just believe the review could have entailed a little more information. lol ;)



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