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?
  • 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 BFD be used?
  • 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.
 
What data will be collected?
  • 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 of 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 database support the HSR System?
  • 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.
     
How will industry benefit?
  • The database is expected to deliver multiple benefits to food manufacturers and retailers, including:
    • an authoritative, single source of industry-generated and quality-assured product data
    • a digital platform to support product comparison, benchmarking and market segment analysis
    • trusted, real-time product information for online retail and digitisation initiatives
    • enter once, use-often data functionality
    • Corporate Social Responsibility benefits through transparency, accountability and visible support of public health policy and programs
    • 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)     
    • brand and product exposure to consumers and other database users a level playing field for companies and businesses.
 
Will FSANZ use the date to verify product claims made by companies?
  • 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.
 
Does FSANZ require data for products without a Nutrition Information Panel? 
  • 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.
 
Does FSANZ have any specific priority categories?
  • 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.
 
Is there any recognition given to companies that participate in this program?
  • FSANZ will recognise participating companies for their contribution to the BFD program by acknowledging them on their website.
 
Is participation mandatory?
  • No. It is not mandatory for companies to provide their data.
 
Who is liable for ensuring the accuracy of the data?
  • As the owners of the food product data provided to the BFD, manufacturers are responsible for ensuring it is accurate and up-to-date.
  • All data provided to FSANZ will be checked and validated against pre-defined database rules as part of the data exchange process.
  • Regular in-store audits will also be undertaken by GS1 to assess the accuracy and currency of the data collected. GS1 will follow-up with manufacturers to verify their information where product content in the database does not match data for that product collected.
 
What if my company wants to provide the data for use by FSANZ but not for the consumer facing website?
  • If requested by manufacturers and/or retailers, FSANZ will retain the data for in-house use only (e.g. to inform standards development work) and will not make it publicly available.
 
What if my company wants to provide all the label data but not off label data (e.g. FNVL content?)
  • FSANZ encourages all manufacturers and/or retailers to provide their off-label data.
  • If requested, FSANZ will agree to use all data provided for in-house use only, for example informing standards development work and supporting public health initiatives and will not publish this data on the consumer facing website.
 
What if my company does not want to provide data?
  • While we encourage all manufacturers to provide their branded food data, participation in the BFD is not mandatory.
 
When does FSANZ need the data?
  • 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 at a later date.
 
What happens if my data does not comply?
  • Brand owners are responsible for ensuring their products comply with relevant regulations, including labelling regulations. Brand owners will be responsible for the accuracy of the data they provide to the BFD.
  • Data provided to FSANZ will be checked to ensure it meets database rules.
  • If any inconsistencies in the data provided are noticed during data compilation, manufacturers will be notified.
  • It is important to note that the data FSANZ collects as part of the work is to inform public health initiatives and not for compliance or enforcement purposes.
 
What if my product does not have a health star rating?
  • 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 it create more work for industry?
  • 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.
 
Do I have to be a member of GS1 to submit my data? Will there be any costs to me?
  • No, you don’t have to be a GS1 member to submit data.
  • FSANZ is developing a free data portal for all manufacturers to submit their data to FSANZ .
 
What about products made in New Zealand and other imported products?
  • The current focus of the BFD is on branded food products sold in Australia. This includes imported foods, including from New Zealand.