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FSANZ Wants Input on GM and Raw Milk Regulations

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Friday invited individuals and organizations with an interest in the regulation of food to provide information and comment on a number of possible changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

The changes under consideration include the approval of genetically modified (GM) maize, cotton and corn, erythrosine as a coloring for icing and a national food safety standard for the production and processing of raw milk products.

Details of how to make a submission can be found on the FSANZ website.   The closing date for submissions is Feb. 10, 2010, except for P1007 (raw milk products), which closes on Feb. 24.

Food derived from herbicide-tolerant (GM) maize – Application A1021 – Assessment

Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. has requested an amendment to the Food Standards Code to permit the sale and use of food derived from a new genetically modified (GM) variety of maize, dual herbicide-tolerant maize line DP-098140-6.  This maize has been genetically modified for tolerance to the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate and to acetolactate synthase (ALS)-inhibiting herbicides.   FSANZ states, “We have completed a comprehensive safety assessment of this GM maize and hve no safety concerns and consider food derived from it to be as wholesome as that derived from other commercial maize varieties. Comment is welcomed.”

Food derived from insect-protected and herbicide-tolerant (GM) cotton – Application A1028 – Assessment

FSANZ received an Application from Bayer Crop Science Pty Ltd requesting a variation to the Food Standards code to permit the sale and use of food derived from genetically modified cotton line T304-40, conferring insect-protection against feeding damage by Lepidopteran insect larvae and tolerance to herbicides containing glufosinate ammonium. FSANZ states,  “We considered the genetic modification to the plant; the potential toxicity and allergenicity of the novel proteins; and the composition of the cotton line compared with that of conventional cotton cultivars, and found no threats to human health from food derived from this cotton.”

Food derived from drought-tolerant (GM) corn – Application A1029 – 1st Assessment

Monsanto Australia Limited (Monsanto) has requested approval to permit the sale and use of food derived from a new genetically modified (GM) variety of corn, ‘drought-tolerant’ corn line MON87460.  This genetically modified corn has been developed to reduce yield loss under water-limited conditions.   According to FSANZ, “[The agency] must satisfy itself that food derived from GM sources is safe for human consumption before approval is given.   We applied our usual safety assessment procedures to this drought-tolerant corn and concluded that food derived from it is safe to consume.  We seek comment from interested parties.”

Beta-Galactosidase as a processing aid (enzyme) -Application A1032 – Assessment

Friesland Campina Domo is seeking approval to use Bacillus circulans ATCC 31382 as a new microbial source of the enzyme beta-galactosidase. Beta-galactosidase is used in the production of galacto-oligosaccharides.  All processing aids must be assessed by FSANZ before they can be used in the manufacture of foods for sale in Australia and New Zealand. According to FSANZ, “No safety concerns were identified for the enzyme preparation, the enzyme itself or the source microorganism. We are therefore recommending approval of this application and invite comment, especially from the food industry.”

Maltotetraohydrolase as a processing aid -Application A1033 – Assessment

Danisco A/S via Axiome Pty Ltd is seeking approval for the use of a new processing aid (enzyme), maltotetraohydrolase, produced from a genetically modified Bacillus licheniformis containing a modified gene from Pseudomonas stutzeri.Use of the enzyme delays the staling of bakery products and extends the acceptable eating quality period. The enzyme is expected to be largely inactivated during baking and will have no further technological function after baking.  FSANZ stated, “Our safety evaluation raised no risks to human health. We are therefore recommending approval of this enzyme. We welcome information and comments.”

Red 3 erythrosine in food coloring preparations – Application A603 – Draft Assessment

Golding Handicrafts of New Zealand has applied to FSANZ to expand the permission for the red food coloring erythrosine to icing and food coloring preparations.  Erythrosine is currently only permitted in preserved cherries. The maximum permitted level sought for icing is 1/100th of the level permitted in cherries. According to FSANZ, “A comprehensive scientific risk assessment carried out by FSANZ was based on assumptions that are highly protective of consumers. The assessment concluded that at the proposed levels a highly restricted use of erythrosine to color preserved cherries and icing is safe over a lifetime of consumption, even for children and major consumers of these foods. The labeling requirements of the Code will apply to ensure that consumers can make informed decisions when purchasing foods containing erythrosine. We invite comment from the community and the food industry.”

Primary production and processing requirements for raw milk products (Australia only) – Proposal P1007 – 1st Assessment

Current regulation of milk and dairy products in Australia include the heat treatment of milk (pasteurization) to ensure dangerous bacteria are destroyed so we have high level of dairy product safety. This has been an important public health measure for many decades. ‘Raw’ or unpasteurized milk products, such as cheeses, are made from milk that has not undergone pasteurization or an equivalent heat treatment. Currently, the Code only allows for a small number of cheeses made from raw milk to be produced or imported into Australia. FSANZ states, “We are now assessing whether a greater range of raw milk products can be produced, under carefully managed control systems, without compromising public health and safety. We invite comment and information from interested parties on the assessment to date to inform the impact analysis for the project.”

Submissions:  FSANZ welcomes public comment from industry, public health professionals, government agencies and consumers. Details of all the assessments above can be found on www.foodstandards.gov.au.  Submissions should reach FSANZ by 10 February 2010 and 24 February 2010 for P1007.

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