FSANZ has recently updated its advice to the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS) on the list of imported risk foods that require an initial 100% inspection rate on importation to Australia. If you import food to Australia, you are legally responsible for ensuring the food is safe, suitable for human consumption and complies with Australia’s food laws and standards (see the Imported Food Control Act 1992 (Cth) and relevant Australian state and territory food legislation).
Recently added foods to the 100% inspection rate include:
- Ready-for-Retail pure and highly concentrated caffeine products
- Ready-to-Eat berries
- Pomegranate arils
- Ready-to-Eat cooked crustaceans, including crab, crayfish, lobster, prawn or shrimp
- Cooked poultry meat
- Paprika, dried pepper, dried capsicum and dried chilli (except from NZ)
- Human milk and human milk products
Note: Weblinks have been provided where IFIS testing information is publicly available; the others have not yet been released at the time of writing. FZANZ advice documents on these risk foods can be found here.
How is a Risk Food Tested?
Once the Department of Home Affairs first refers the imported food arrival for testing, the IFIS will initially inspect and test 100% of risk food consignments. Once 5 consecutive consignments of the risk food have passed, the inspection rate may be reduced to 25%; and after a further 20 consecutive passes, the inspection rate may be reduced to 5%. Factors influencing inspection and testing rates are subject to a range of factors including, but not limited to, the risk level for the food, responses to international food safety incidents or post border, domestic food safety incidents.
A risk food compliance history is developed based on factors such as the producer, country of origin, and tariff code. Individual importer compliance is not taken into account in compiling a compliance history.
Risk foods are tested against a published list of potential hazards, including microorganisms and contaminants. Risk foods are also subject to visual and labelling inspection to assess compliance with Food Standards Code chapters 1 & 2 (including nutrient content and health claims).
Imported food consignments are held until the test results are assessed and the food is released by the Department of Home Affairs for domestic distribution and sale.
If your imported risk food fails inspection, the following options are available:
- bring the food into compliance (if possible)
- downgrade the food (if applicable)
- export the food
- destroy the food
The food will also revert to a 100% testing rate for future consignments until a satisfactory compliance history is again established.
What should I do now?
If you are involved in importing foods to Australia, it is important to be familiar with all aspects of production and transportation of the food overseas that may be risk factors for Australian importation testing clearance. Further professional advice may be required in order to reduce costly testing failure risks.
Food Envy Labelling can assist you in evaluating foreign labels entering the Australian market against the Food Standards Code and direct you to other professionals that can assist in other areas of assurance and compliance. Contact us today to discuss your needs.