Australian Branded Food Database FAQs
FSANZ believes that access to high quality data is essential for monitoring the food supply and supporting industry and consumers to make well informed decisions about food safety and good health.
Detailed information about the foods we eat provides the evidence needed to support standards development work and public health initiatives that help Australians make healthier food choices and reduce the risk of diet related chronic disease.
FSANZ produces high quality reference data on the nutrient composition of Australian foods for use by policy makers, regulators, academics, researchers, health practitioners, industry, and consumers. We also produce datasets for estimating food and nutrient intakes from national nutrition surveys.
As a respected and trusted expert in food composition, FSANZ was asked by the Department of Health expand its existing data management system and develop an additional dataset of branded foods sold in Australia.
FSANZ have partnered with GS1 Australia to work directly with manufacturers and retailers to collect branded food data. This will ensure the database captures a wide range of product information that can be updated regularly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is FSANZ developing a Branded Food Database?
Is this a GS1 project or is this really being driven by FSANZ?
- As a respected and trusted expert in food composition, FSANZ was asked by the Department of Health to expand its existing food composition data holdings and develop an Australian Branded Food Database (BFD).
- The goal is to build a high quality, comprehensive and trusted dataset of branded food information as an evidence base for current and future public health initiatives.
- To ensure the database captures a wide range of foods, beverages, and product information, FSANZ has partnered with GS1 Australia to work directly with manufacturers and retailers to collect branded food data.
How will the Branded Food Database be used?
- The Branded Food Database is a FSANZ project. GS1 Australia is supporting FSANZ in the establishment of the Branded Food Database.
What data will be collected for the Branded Food Database?
- The database will provide a central, comprehensive, and open source of brand specific information for use by a range of stakeholders including food manufacturers, academics, health professionals, policy makers and consumers.
- Branded food information will help people make informed decisions about the foods and beverages they buy and consume, while supporting industry to benchmark their products and improve transparency in the market. It will also inform food standards development and public health and nutrition initiatives such as the Health Star Rating System and reformulation work under the Australian Government’s Healthy Food Partnership.
- Over time, the BFD could link with other datasets to provide a more comprehensive picture of food and nutrient consumption patterns in the Australian population.
How will the Branded Food Database support the HSR System?
- Data collected will include a range of on-pack information including:
- Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)
- manufacturer, brand, and food name
- nutrition information panel and listed ingredients
- pack and serve size, and
- health star rating (HSR), if displayed.
- Where relevant, manufacturers may also provide off-pack product information relating to HSR, including HSR category, total dietary fibre and fruit, vegetable, nut, and legume (FVNL) content.
- We expect that not all the data collected will be made publicly available. We will consult with food manufacturers and other stakeholders to determine what will be published.
How will the Branded Food Database benefit industry?
- The database will provide data and evidence for the HSR system.
- While a monitoring framework for the HSR system is still being developed by the Department of Health, the BFD is expected to be an important element of that framework.
- The database will help track uptake of health star ratings by manufacturers as well as changes in the nutritional profile of foods over time. The database will also provide a reliable source of data for modelling any future HSR system changes.
Does FSANZ have any specific priority for product categories?
- The database is expected to deliver multiple benefits to food and beverage manufacturers and retailers. The database will:
- Contribute to improving Australia’s health and nutrition policy
- Provide open and transparent brand recognition in market via product data being available to consumers.
- Support evidence-based standards and regulatory development which helps everyone in the food sector.
- Provide regulatory efficiencies, including through assessment of the impacts of proposed changes to the Food Standards Code (e.g., to labelling requirements) and minimisation of ad-hoc requests for product data (e.g., for new or extended use of additives)
- Corporate Social Responsibility benefits through transparency, accountability and visible support of public health policy and programs
- Enable companies to leverage product data for other purposes, e.g., sharing with retailers for online retail activities
- Online retail is here to stay and is growing, brand owners that can provide accurate product composition data will reap the benefits
- Product digitisation creates opportunities and levels the playing field!
Is participation mandatory?
- Packaged food and beverage categories relevant to monitoring of HSR uptake will be our main priority, however we are also interested in collecting data for meal replacement products, sports foods, and alcoholic beverages.
- FSANZ will work with individual manufacturers, major retailers and GS1 Australia to ensure the database represents packaged food and beverage products available in Australia and captures a wide range of food categories including season specific products.
Can we see how adoption progresses and confirm benefits before commitment?
- No. It is not mandatory for companies to provide their data.
When does FSANZ need the data?
- We are approaching this project as a collaboration with industry. Companies will make their own individual decisions on whether to participate and the timing in which they do. We are hoping that food and beverages companies will rapidly support this project.
Will it the Branded Food Database create more work for industry?
- Manufacturers who are already members of GS1 may provide their data to FSANZ from early 2022.
- Manufacturers who are not members of GS1 will be able to provide their data to FSANZ via a free data portal (using a web-based interface or excel spreadsheet template) from mid-2022.
- While we encourage manufacturers to submit their data as soon as possible, companies can opt-in at any time later.
Does FSANZ require data for products without a Nutrition Information Panel?
- FSANZ and GS1 are looking to implement systems and processes to minimise the work required from manufacturers to supply and maintain their data.
- Our aim is to integrate with existing systems where possible so that manufacturers need only enter their data once and have it available for a range of purposes.
- FSANZ is requesting a minimum data set for each branded food. It will be optional for manufacturers to provide all other data. There are many benefits to manufacturers from uploading and maintaining their data in an electronic format.
What if my product does not have a Health Star Rating?
- FSANZ will collect data for all packaged food and beverage products. We are aiming to collect a range of branded food information (e.g., information on claims, country of origin etc.), not just nutrient information or those required to calculate health star ratings.
- The goal is to build a high quality, comprehensive and trusted database that provides data that is suitable for a range of purposes and can link to other datasets over time.
Will there be any recognition given to companies that participate in this program?
- FSANZ is collecting a range of branded food information, not just health star ratings.
- The goal is to build a high quality, comprehensive and trusted database that serves as an important evidence base for current and future public health initiatives and can be used by a range of stakeholders.
Will FSANZ use the data to verify product claims made by companies?
- FSANZ will recognise participating companies for their contribution to the BFD program by acknowledging them on their website.
What about products made in New Zealand and other imported products?
- FSANZ is collecting branded food data as part of its work to inform public health initiatives and standards development, not for compliance or enforcement purposes.
- FSANZ will not use the data to verify nutrition content or health claims on products.
Do I have to be a member of GS1 to submit product data?
- The current focus of the BFD is on branded food products sold in Australia. This includes imported foods, including from New Zealand.
What are the costs to industry to participate in the Branded Food Database?
- No, you don’t have to be a GS1 member to submit data.
What about product images? Is there a cost to provide images to FSANZ?
- The Branded Food Database approach for collecting product data from industry has been designed to minimise any cost to industry.
- Companies that are already using the NPC today will be able to publish their product data to FSANZ via the NPC at no additional cost. NPC users only need to update their product records to meet the FSANZ data requirements.
- Companies that are not using the NPC today will be able to use a FSANZ Online Portal at no cost as well.
What about product images that are stored on other platforms not specifically with GS1?
- Companies that use the FSANZ Online Portal will be able to share their product images with FSANZ at no cost.
- Companies using the NPC that have access to the NPC Digital Module can share their product images with FSANZ at no additional cost.
- Companies using the NPC that don't have access to the NPC Digital Module can consider registering for the NPC Digital Module to share images with FSANZ as well as all other retailers as required. Annual fees typically would start at around $465 + GST per annum for smaller companies and will increase proportionally based on a company's annual turnover. One-time set costs my apply. For details, please contact GS1 Australia.
Will there be an option where I can list the URL for a product image?
- GS1 is planning to support images in other platforms via APIs.
- Under this method, companies will be able to use APIs to automatically load product images to their NPC Digital Module.
- Specifications and fees for this (future) option are not yet available. Companies interested in exploring this should contact GS1 Australia for details.
- This option is not supported for the provision of images to the Branded Food Database.
- When food and beverage companies use the NPC Digital Module or the FSANZ Online Portal a range of automated quality checks are performed on all images. The use of these systems also ensures that the Branded Food Database is not exposed to malware.
- Providing a URL for a product image bypasses image quality checks and can expose FSANZ systems to malware.