Recently-formed food agency, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), is inviting public comment on a gamut of possible changes to the Food Standards Code, including infant foods labelling, artificial sweeteners and GM soybeans.
Recently revised Australian National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding until six months, and the introduction of solids at around six months of age. Currently Standard 2.9.2 in the Food Standards Code permits labelling of infants foods as suitable 'from 4 months'. Food Standards Ministers have asked FSANZ to raise a proposal and seek public comment about this potential inconsistency.
A new intense sweetener, aspartame-acesulphame salt, when dissolved, breaks down into two food additives that are already permitted for use by the Code. FSANZ has conducted a pre-market risk assessment on aspartame-acesulphame salt, concluding that it raises no safety concerns and that it fulfils its technological purpose as an intense sweetener.
The body is studying a draft assessement of plant protein products as a wine processing aid. These processing aids are wine clarifying agents that can be used to produce wine suitable for vegan and vegetarian wine consumers.
FSANZ has conducted an assessment and found that these processing aids are 'safe and technologically justified'. But the organisation is calling for comments on the potential costs and benefits to consumers, industry or government arising from an approval of these plant proteins as a wine processing aid.
Turning to another processing aid - the enzyme lysophospholipase. This assists with the process of extracting glucose and maltodextrins from wheat starch. After assessing this processing aid and finding it safe, FSANZ is now seeking public comment to assist with its cost benefits analysis.
Sodium chlorite is a further processing aid under investigation. According to FSANZ, this application is to allow the use of acidified sodium chlorite to reduce the number of micro-organisms during the processing of fruit and vegetables, raw poultry, red meats and raw or cooked comminuted or formed meat products (salami-like products).
Sodium chlorite is already permitted to be used as a bleaching, washing and peeling agent. FSANZ is seeking public comment.
Onto the heated topic of GM soybeans.A comprehensive safety assessment has been undertaken by FSANZ on food derived from LibertyLink soybean lines A2704-12 and A5547-127. LibertyLink soybeans contain one novel protein, phosphinothricin acetyltransferase (PAT), which confers tolerance to the herbicide glufosinate ammonium.
PAT has already been assessed by FSANZ (Applications A372, A375, and A380). According to the agency, the safety assessment did not identify any public health and safety concerns associated with the genetic modification to the soybean and concluded that food derived from soybean lines A2704-12 and A5547-127 can be considered as safe and wholesome as food derived from other soybean varieties.
The agency said this week that submissions should be received by 27 August 2003 and for Application A452 by 13 August 2003.