AusAg & Foodtech - Food Technology

What is food technology?

Food technology includes functional foods, modified foods and nutraceuticals.

Functional foods are foods or dietary components that may provide an additional function (such as health benefits or disease prevention) beyond basic nutrition. These may be enhancements to naturally occurring benefits in conventional foods, such as increased omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and increasing the fibre in oat bran, or ingredients added to foods during processing to provide benefits that promote optimal health.

Nutraceuticals, a subset of functional foods, are derived from food sources and taken as supplements to provide extra health benefits.

Modified foods such as folate-enriched breads and foods formulated with bioactive ingredients such as fish oils, plant sterol esters or lutein may play an important role in promoting health. They can further enhance a diet made up primarily of conventional foods with functional properties such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

Medical foods include PKU formulas free of phenylalanine. Foods for special dietary uses include gluten-free and lactose-free foods.

Functional ‘food as medicine’ is achieved through methods including:

 addition of bioactive ingredients, such as yogurts with probiotics added to assist digestive health;

 fortification with vitamins and/or minerals, such as breakfast cereal with added folate to address community deficiency and prevent birth defects, soy products fortified with calcium and vitamin D for bone health, and bread with added oat bran for soluble fibre to help lower blood cholesterol levels; and

 bioactive-component enhancement through plant breeding, processing, or livestock feeding techniques, such as eggs enriched with omega 3 fats to improve heart health.


How does Australia manage safety?

Australia has a strict quarantine policy and an advanced food safety and quality assessment system. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) develops and administers the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, which regulates the ingredients that can be added to food and the subsequent health claims that can be made.

In Australia, live and viable genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are regulated by the Office of Gene Technology Regulator under the Gene Technology Act 2000. Food produced from any GM crops also have to be approved by Food Safety Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) before it is allowed to be sold. The regulatory system is focused on a rigorous science-based process of identifying risk and managing safety to human health.