Why are the Queensland government and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) fast-tracking a blanket approval for the irradiation of all fruit and vegetables?
In January this year, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) published an announcement that it would assess and application by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to allow the irradiation of all fresh fruit and vegetables. The published proposed timeframe for the assessment of this application, known as A1193, would see work commencing in November 2020 and public consultation taking place next year- early April 2021.
On October 30, however, FSANZ notified the public of a 6-week timeframe to respond. We now know that in May, the Queensland government paid to fast-track the processing of the application. This information was not published on the A1193 webpage, nor was it published in FSANZ notification circulars. In fact, while the application was re-announced in May, there was no reason given for the re-announcement and no change to information previously provided. The A1193 webpage continued to display only material that suggested the public consultation dates were April next year.
As our food safety regulator, FSANZ is mandated to ensure an affective, transparent and accountable regulatory framework, within which the food industry can work efficiently. Public notice requirements are intended to promote accountability and transparency in the regulatory framework. In fact, the FSANZ Act 1991, states that FSANZ must provide the public with a timeframe for its work and also update the public of a new timeframe for carrying out work if it accepts funding for it. FSANZ has not done so.