Farm Online: Levelling the playing field for imported and domestic food safety is essential, according to independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

Senator Xenophon last week backed the auditor-general’s findings that Australia’s imported food safety regime was seriously flawed and has called for root-and-branch reform of the system, foreshadowing legislative changes.

The auditor-general’s report on the administration of the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS) found that it was applied inconsistently across the country and lacked performance benchmarks.

Senator Xenophon will release an exposure draft next month of legislative changes to the IFIS, which will include proposals to require full traceability of imported food; a registration system for food importers similar to the European approach, and warranties from importers guaranteeing the safety of food, with heavy penalties for any breaches.

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