Compliance of pre-packaged food products imported from Asian countries, and sold in Western Australia, with the Australian and New Zealand food standards code
Date of Award
Edith Cowan University
Master of Medical and Health Science by Research
School of Medical and Health Sciences
The need for appropriate and accurate labelling of pre-packaged foods is essential for the health and well-being of consumers. In spite of a range of enforcement checks on imported food, non-compliant foods still reach the shelves of retail food businesses. The aim of this research was to determine the prevalence of non-compliance labelling of imported prepackaged foods from Asian countries sold in Western Australia and to identify the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of employees, in these food businesses regarding food labelling.
Environmental Health Officers (EHO) from three participating Local Government Authorities (LGA) located within the Perth Metropolitan area conducted food sampling. Fifty nine prepackaged food products (sauce, paste, noodle, baked product) from Asian grocery stores, were analysed for the presence of egg, gluten, milk, peanut and soy and the labels of sampled products were audited against the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSC) and allergen declarations on labels. A survey of 30 owners/employees of Asian grocery stores was conducted to ascertain their knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of food labels and their value and importance.
Fourteen of the 52 labels audited (26.9%) did not declare allergens, with soy being the most common undeclared allergen (n=10) and Red Bean Cream Bread a baked product with the most undeclared allergens (n=4). Fifty of the 52 labels audited (96%) failed to comply with the FSC. Furthermore 16 (30.7%) individual labelling criteria did not meet the required specifications of the FSC. The most common non-compliant food label criteria were the ‘ingredients to be listed in descending order’ (n=84.6%) and ‘lot identification’ was missing (n=40%).
Survey results reveal that the participants have a satisfactory level of trust (perception) and 80% of participants perceive the information on pre-packaged foods labels to be trustworthy. In an assessment of participants attitudes towards food labelling, it was determined that less than half (47.75%) of the participants ensured that pre-packaged foods were checked for allergens. In contrast their attitudes to check for compliance regarding Best Before Date (BBD), Use By Dates (UBD) and storage conditions was much higher, combined mean of 77% agreement.
Labels on imported foods are often non-compliant with the FSC labelling requirements and there are clear knowledge gaps and opportunities for education and training of food store proprietors and employees. The non-compliance identified presents an opportunity for agencies to encourage and promote food safety training and to review food importation protocols, policies, enforcement and inter-sectoral collaboration at all agency levels to ensure compliance. There is also a need for food safety education for importers, proprietors, and all relevant staff as well as enforcement agencies.
Access to thesis is embargoed until 18th September 2024.
Paewai, E. J. (2023). Compliance of pre-packaged food products imported from Asian countries, and sold in Western Australia, with the Australian and New Zealand food standards code. Edith Cowan University. http://dx.doi.org/10.25958/zhky-0x34