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Food Standards Australia New Zealand Logo

Corporate Plan 2019–20

​​​​​​(August 2019)

corporate plan 18-20-cover.jpgDownload our Corporate Plan 2019-20 (pdf 1613kb)

Foreword

 

This Corporate Plan provides the strategic direction that FSANZ’s Board will follow during the period 1 July 2019 through to 30 June 2023 with greatest detail on the work during 2019–20.

​​FSANZ is part of a complex food regulatory system that has, at its heart, the independent development of food standards across two countries.  The food regulation system has served both countries well for the last two decades but new challenges across a host of areas including rapid advances in technology that are changing food production techniques; increasingly complex international supply chains; increasing consumer expectations; greater understanding of the links between food consumption and health status; increased emphasis upon traceability, reductions in food waste and food authenticity, all point to the need for the system to adapt and change to meet these challenges.   ​

This Corporate Plan describes the substantial contribution we will make in 2019–20 supporting the cooperative food regulation system to meet its priority objectives, which were established by food regulation ministers in 2016. In particular, we will work with food regulators and industry to develop a national strategy to reduce foodborne illness due to salmonella and campylobacter (priority 1), and support broader public health nutrition efforts to reduce obesity (priority 2). The plan also describes how we will undertake a broader range of activities that are related to our core functions including the greater use of economics and other social sciences to ensure the fitness for purpose of food standards. Beyond this plan, the FSANZ Board will continue to be active to help shape the future direction of food regulation in Australia and New Zealand (priority 3).

In recent years we have  responded to the need to reduce our available resourcing by streamlining our operations and reducing costs wherever possible. We continue to deliver on expectations by being increasingly agile and responsive through relentlessly pursuing opportunities to continuously improve our processes. Looking ahead, it will be crucial for us to work closely with our stakeholders and collaborators to ensure that we are able to respond to future challenges and to ensure that our regulatory system keeps pace and continues to underpin the trust of our food supply.

The cooperative food regulation system brings many levels of government together, with each having different responsibilities. We are the public face of that system and our agency is seen by many consumers and industry as the principal national agency responsible for assuring public health and safety and confidence in food. We face challenges in responding to the diverse range of tasks that we are asked to perform: some because we have a statutory function and others in response to external demands that we perform a broader function than set out in our legislation. 

Engaging our people to meet these challenges will be the key leadership focus. The executive team is committed to ensuring the tone at the top is aligned with best practice. We aim to be an employer of choice in the Australian public service. Our recruitment, induction, reward systems and leader behaviours will be examined to ensure our people are enabled to learn, grow and continue to deliver on our reputation for excellence. The agency has embarked upon a wide scale culture change exercise to ensure that the FSANZ workplace is a supportive one where staff are empowered to maximise their potential. 

​Robyn Kruk AO
Board Chair

Mark Booth
Chief Executive Officer

Our remit

The founding legislation for FSANZ lays out four goals for the agency, namely:

  • A high degree of consumer confidence in the quality and safety of food produced, processed, sold or exported from Australia and New Zealand

  • An effective transparent and accountable regulatory framework within which the food industry can work efficiently

  • The provision of adequate information relating to food to enable consumers to make informed choices

  • The establishment of common rules for both countries and the promotion of consistency between domestic and international food regulatory measures without reducing the safeguards that apply to public health and consumer protection.​

​We seek to achieve these goals by developing food standards that are informed by the best available scientific evidence; providing food standards information; and by coordinating aspects of the food regulatory system.​

The Board has adopted as a single overarching vision: Consumers have a high level of confidence in the safety of food.​

Our operating model

Risk analysis is the internationally agreed method that shapes our approach to food standards and safety decisions. It consists of three parts—risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. Risk assessment involves an evaluation of the best available scientific evidence to provide the technical basis of decisions. From this base, risk management is the application of law, policies and perspectives that enables sound judgement. Both processes are supported by a platform of risk communication to optimise information transfer between audiences.


 

The food regulation system

The Australian and New Zealand joint food regulation system is a strong system, employing risk management principles based on scientific evidence and expertise, that protects the health and safety of food for consumers. It is a complex system that involves all levels of government in Australia and New Zealand. Different roles are met by local, state and national governments. International obligations are respected. 

The system reflects the many businesses and stakeholders in the food supply chain, providing a stable platform on which our food industries can operate, and enables choice for consumers.

We contribute to the following system objectives:
  • a high degree of consumer confidence in the quality and safety of food
  • an effective, transparent and accountable regulatory framework in which the food industry can work efficiently
  • adequate information in relation to food to enable consumers to make informed choices, and
  • common rules for Australia and New Zealand and the promotion of consistency between domestic and international food regulatory measures while maintaining safeguards applying to public health and consumer protection. ​

Environmental scan

The food regulation system that we are part of is a world class system that underpins a high level of confidence in the quality and safety of the food that Australians and New Zealanders eat. 

 
To ensure we maintain these high levels of confidence we must have ongoing vigilance around the state of the system.  The capacity of the system is challenged by innovation in food production and manufacturing, the development of novel supply chains and increased community expectations. Consumers are frequently looking for more than confidence about safety and suitability. They want to know about the nutritional and environmental impacts of their consumption—including the personal and community impacts of their dietary choices.

 
In response to these challenges the FSANZ Board has led a wide ranging discussion both internally and externally about our role within the wider food regulatory system and how we can enhance it to build upon the world class expertise within the agency. This discussion is crucial–food regulation is essential to provide a level of public health and safety that domestic and international communities expect. Effective food regulation supports confidence that the food that we buy is suitable and safe to consume as part of a normal diet and facilitates domestic and international trade by reducing uncertainty and commercial risk. The independently developed and scientifically-based standards set by FSANZ establish a foundation for the food regulation system and support a successful food industry in both countries, providing a clear set of laws for all food businesses. Our strong, effective and risk-based standards contribute to the economic success of food industries in both countries.

 
This discussion was had in cooperation with the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) as well as with all jurisdictions through the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC). We look forward to continuing this discussion through continuing public engagement in 2019–20. 

Our roles within the food regulation system 

Modernisation work

During 2018/19 we consulted with key stakeholders in the food regulatory system in both Australia and New Zealand.  The consultation showed there is general agreement that:

  • an independent and scientifically credible standards setting agency is critical and lies at the core of the food regulatory system; 

  • risk analysis is core to our purpose and requires scientific expertise, effective support, access to data and information to support this; 
  • we need to maintain our scientific base and should seek to expand this via strategic partnerships with other organisations such as universities and research institutes;
  • we have core capability and expertise that can be more effectively leveraged to support the food regulatory system and can provide a greater input into policy making processes; 
  • our activities are constrained by settings that are process based rather than outcome focussed and reduce the agency’s ability to be agile and innovative;
  • we are significantly constrained by a resource environment that has reduced funding by almost a third in seven years but is increasing the demands on the agency; and, finally
  • modernising the FSANZ contribution is not cost free but will have significant system wide benefits.
In addition we have mapped out some strategic directions for the agency in 2019–20.  These directions are described under three broad and interdependent themes: a trusted leader; deeply engaged with stakeholders; and an independent contributor to a robust and agile food regulatory system.  

Theme: A trusted leader

​A trusted source of advice on food safety 


Many people, in both countries, believe that FSANZ has a greater role to play than it does in responding publicly as the face of the food regulatory system. Media and industry often seek us out as the first and single point of contact on food safety and food regulatory issues. Rather than shy away from this we will, in consultation with other agencies who have statutory responsibilities in this area, embrace it and continue to position ourself as the independent face of food safety.  

 

A leader in its areas of expertise

FSANZ has the largest Government concentration of specialist food regulatory experts across Australasia—it is internationally recognised for the quality of its scientific work and has, in recent years, built capability in economics and social sciences.  This will be built upon and enhanced through strategic alliances with other government agencies and also key research institutes in the academic and private sectors.

 

Leaders in regulatory science in the region

Science is a critical core competence that underpins FSANZ’s ability to achieve its purpose. High quality regulatory science is based on the best available evidence, incorporates information from numerous disciplines and forms the basis of standard setting. Our forward looking regulatory science strategy ensures we remain prepared to respond to the challenges of global trends and a dynamic food system.

 

A source of wisdom on emerging risks

We currently publish an annual food safety emerging issues report and have established extensive, but un-coordinated relationships and networks–with the desire to build an insighting capability system that anticipates future issues for us and the food regulation system as a whole.  This will build upon our existing excellent networks both domestically and internationally and will try to anticipate immediate risks as well as looking at issues over 2, 5 and 10 year time horizons.  The scope for this forecasting system is food safety, nutrition and labelling and we have already made steps towards this by establishing an intelligence function within FSANZ.  ​

Theme: Deeply engaged with stakeholders

Engagement with our domestic and international stakeholders

We have extremely well established consultation processes along with a wide number of trusted stakeholder relationships in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as internationally.   As a result of this we have deep and rich contacts across the sector and are seen as a trusted and independent source of expertise and advice. This engagement will continue to form a major part of our activities.  

Enhancing international engagement

 
We will further explore work sharing with other international food standard setting agencies that will allow important synergies to be achieved. This should produce efficiencies in work areas as well as improving timeliness.  We will seek greater leverage of Codex standards with a view to strengthen adoption into the Code. We will continue our work with APEC economies and look for ways to enhance this.​

Theme: An independent contributor to a robust and agile food regulatory system

​Effective and efficient

We have in recent years streamlined and adapted our operations and work in response to funding pressures. We will continue to ‘work smarter’ to ensure we can meet the expectations of the wider community, industry and governments.

Provider of expert evidence into policy making processes

We are already increasing our input into policy development processes and will look to enhance this in a way that plays to our strengths, in particular in the areas of technical expertise and trusted stakeholder relationships. ​

Maintaining our role in national response within Australia

The coordination role that we play in food recalls and food incidents is a key one that will be maintained.

We will also continue to excel in our core roles which are set out in the FSANZ Act, namely—developing food regulatory measures, also known as food standards and codes of practice; providing advice to the food regulators; coordinating some regulatory activities across the system and providing information to consumers about food standards. In addition, we will continue to make strong contributions to the three Ministerial priorities for 2017–21: reducing foodborne illness; reducing chronic diseases associated with overweight and obesity; and maintaining a strong robust and agile food regulatory system. 

Developing food standards 

Our main function is to develop and promulgate information about food standards. These standards, which become part of the legislation in the jurisdictions, provide confidence in our food supply by providing assurance that complying foods are safe and suitable. 

Significant progress has been made on revising standards for novel foods and nutritive substances. These are foods about which consumers require a higher level of assurance because, as new foods and substances, there is no history of safe consumption in Australia or New Zealand. This work will continue in 2019–20. 

We will also continue to progress reviews of the food safety requirements and the primary production and processing standards in Chapters 3 and 4 of the Code. Whilst this work was highlighted in our previous years’ Corporate Plan, it was necessary for us to wait for the completion of work being done by the Implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation (ISFR), the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC), and the Ministerial Forum on food safety management (which was completed towards the end of the year). Our Chapter 4 work was disrupted by the Forum/FRSC activity in relation to horticulture (following the incident around listeria in rockmelons), along with the intervention of the strawberries incident, and the jurisdictional response. Our objective is to simplify these standards to ensure that food safety is achieved in the most efficient way. 

The standard for food produced using gene technology is also being reviewed to ensure it provides the necessary and appropriate assurance in relation to food produced using new breeding techniques. These pieces of work are large and complex and require significant resources which is challenging in an environment of ongoing reductions in funding.

New work is to commence to modernise our approach to the regulation through food standards of chemical residues in food. In this work we aim to remove inconsistencies with other regulatory tools and international standards.​

Providing advice and coordinating regulatory responses

 

Confidence in our food supply is also a product of effective response systems that remove unsafe food from sale quickly and ensure a rapid response to food-related incidents. Strong and cooperative relationships between the incident response coordinator, the enforcement agencies and food businesses are essential to an effective system. 

To drive continued improvement in this cooperative system, we have developed a food safety culture partnership. This partnership brings industry, enforcement agencies and FSANZ together to promote effective food safety culture in food businesses. In 2019–20 we will continue working on the partnership and promoting our resources to businesses. We will also run an exercise to test the national incident management system and businesses’ capacity to respond effectively.

This year we will play a leading role in developing work to reduce the level of foodborne illness in Australia. We will also commence a substantial project to revise the Australia-only food safety standards, in Chapters 3 and 4 of the Code, and related microbiological limit standards.

​Providing information about food standards

We recognise that ensuring high standards of food safety is only part of the work required to maintain confidence in food. We live in an information rich society that demands accurate information to enable personal choice. We have a critical role as a provider of food information that our communities trust and we will continue to provide information on food standards through a variety of different platforms.  We will adopt a supporting role in public health efforts to promote healthy eating.

We will participate in, and, as appropriate, lead domestic and international food-related policy development and the advancement of food-related knowledge.

This year we will work with food regulators to better explain the food regulatory system and to provide the accurate information required by consumers. This work will help build industry compliance and consumer awareness and enhance confidence in labelling as a source of information about food safety and quality.


 

Key enablers to achieve performance 

​This Corporate Plan provides the Board’s overall strategic direction for the agency.  Our key enablers support the Board by creating an environment for high quality decision making and communication with all stakeholders, including consumers and industry.

People

The high quality of the work we achieve is a testament to the quality of the workforce. The Board is fully supportive of the work the agency is doing on culture change and has established a new Board subcommittee on People, Culture and Remuneration.  This subcommittee will specifically look at how the Board can best link in with staff on its ongoing work in this area. 

​ Whilst the agency subscribes to the Australian Public Service values as laid out in the ICARE framework, we have undertaken work on complementary values that resonate with our staff.  These values have been developed by staff and over the next year we will work to incorporate these values into all of our activities.  The values are:

  • Develop—support people to grow and develop
  • Achieve—work together to achieve a common goal
  • Accountable—be responsible for my commitments, behaviours and actions
  • Respect—build open and supportive relationships
  • Transparent—build trust by being genuine, clear and consistent.

Regulatory science 

Our regulatory science strategy sets out our plan to develop and maintain our scientific evidence base, risk assessment methodologies, expand our capabilities, leverage resources through strategic partnerships, and communicate our science to meet stakeholder needs.

It positions us as a recognised leader of food reg.ulatory science in our region, the trusted coordinator of credible information on food safety, and ensures that the risk analysis framework remains appropriate to respond to the challenges of a changing food system. 

​Maintaining and expanding our regulatory science capabilities will enable FSANZ to remain flexible and agile in meeting the needs of a constantly evolving food production system, for the benefit of food producers, manufacturers and consumers.

We recognise the importance of public health nutrition analysis to assess the impact upon population health status of our work.  FSANZ continues to have a strong public health focus that provides input to policy decision making processes

Communication 

All staff have a role in communication and stakeholder engagement. Our strategy aims to manage the different ways of communicating and making the best use of our extensive information. Our communications activities are aimed at explaining our use of evidence and the regulatory and non-regulatory objectives of our decisions. 

The Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy identifies a growing reliance on our website and social media to communicate efficiently with diverse audiences and the importance of more clearly engaging with audiences during risk analysis processes. It also highlights the need for further stakeholder research and liaison to help extend our reach into the broader community.

 
Governance  

 

In a world in which food risks can emerge quickly and advances in knowledge or innovation can change our understanding of a hazard, we have to be able to respond promptly and proportionately. 

Our risk analysis approach and governance mechanisms ensure that we can effectively identify, monitor and respond to food safety and food-related public health issues in a transparent and coordinated manner that applies an internationally recognised methodology. In day-to-day operations we also manage this risk using an emerging risk framework and through strategic communication activities. 

​Our governance systems also ensure that we make consistent decisions and have a high level of accountability for all of our activities, through active consultation and collaboration and transparent decision making.


 
​The risk context


We manage risk (including enterprise risks) through our Risk Management Framework.

Risk appetite is the level of risk the Board and organisation are prepared to accept in pursuing their objectives, and before action is deemed necessary to reduce the risk. We recognise the importance of the overall risk appetite of the Board and the relationship between this and the activities of the organisation. In addition the relationship between strategic and operational risk is recognised as well as links with organisational culture.

​​Strategies 

We have a moderate appetite for risks associated with achieving our strategies given the importance of food safety.

Shared responsibilities  

Food-related public health and safety is a shared responsibility of the Australian, New Zealand and state and territory governments, industry and consumers. We are responsible for developing food regulatory measures, for providing information and scientific assessments and for coordinating regulatory activities in consultation with, or at the request of, Australian or New Zealand jurisdictions. 

 
In the context of the shared responsibilities for food-related public health and safety, we have a low appetite for risk. 

 

​Corporate operations  

We are a corporate entity and the Board is responsible under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 for governing the agency. The Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee advises the Board on enterprise risks. 

 
In our corporate operations, we have a low appetite for risk.

 
The Corporate Plan provides the Board’s direction for the agency. These directions are reflected in key managerial and corporate documents of the agency as shown in the diagram (see PDF).

 

Measuring up for the future

It is incumbent on an organisation that prides itself on its evidence-based approaches to collect and report data that show how we are achieving (or not) on purpose. These data are referred to as performance measures.

We have examined the expected outcomes of our agency’s activities in order to develop a suite of measures that enable us to better tell our performance stories and focus our efforts. The measures have been developed under seven broad areas and explicitly link into the three interdependent themes identified earlier in the document. Building on work undertaken during 2018–19 we are well placed to objectively demonstrate the impact of our work and identify whether or not outcomes are being achieved. The table below describes the performance areas and how they relate to the three themes.​


 

​Themes

​Performance areas

A trusted leader




  • consumer trust in food labels and in the food regulatory system

  • regulatory science

  • communication to stakeholders ​

​Deeply engaged with stakeholders

  • engagement with our stakeholders 

  • staff engagement and workplace culture

​​An independent contributor to a robust and agile food regulatory system

  • management and completion of applications and proposals ​

  • coordination of food recalls.​

 

 

 

 

Our operating environment ​

Our vision

​Consumers have a high level of confidence in the safety of food.

Our functions
  • Develop food standards informed by best available scientific evidence
  • Coordinate aspects of the food regulatory system
  • Provide food standards information 
​Our themes
  • A trusted leader
  • Deeply engaged with stakeholders
  • Independent contributor to a robust and agile food regulatory system 

 

Our performance areas​

 

 

Consum​er trust in food labels and the food regulatory system

Regulatory science

Communication to stakeholders


​​Management and completion of applications and prop

osals




Engagement with our stakeholders 

Staff engagament and workplace culture​

​Key enablers

P​eople, Regulatory science, Communication, Governance

​Our values

Develop, Achieve, Accountable, Respect, Transparent​​​​
 




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