A new food safety standard, covering the production and processing of seafood, was launched today (Tuesday) at the Sydney Fish Market by the parliamentary secretary for health and ageing, Christopher Pyne, Food Standards Australia New Zealand announced.

Pyne also announced that a guide to assist state and territory enforcement officers and industry to understand the provisions of the new standard is also available.

"For the first time in Australia, the food safety of an entire industry sector - from seafood harvesting to consumption - is now being managed through consistent national standards," he said. "I believe the new standard will help protect the integrity of the Australian seafood industry, at home and for our export markets."

Also speaking at the launch, the managing director of Seafood Services Australia, Ted Loveday, said the standard built on the foundation formed by the industry's own voluntary codes. "There is no place in the Australian seafood industry for practices and products that do not meet the new requirements," he said. "The vast majority of seafood businesses are already operating at these levels."

The national standard, which becomes mandatory in 2007, largely replaces state regulations and is supported by voluntary industry codes of practice.

The standard requires primary producers in the seafood industry to abide by the basic hygiene provisions already in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code for the handling, transportation and storage of seafood by manufacturers and retailers.

There are particular provisions for the primary production and processing of oysters and other bivalve molluscs.

"Food Standards Australia New Zealand developed the standard in partnership with the seafood industry together with the state and territory jurisdictions and consumers," Pyne said. "It was truly a collaborative effort, spanning three years, and it has set a model for regulating food safety in other primary industry sectors.

Pyne emphasised that the new food safety regulations apply to imported seafood as well as to the domestically harvested product.