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Chapter 4 - Key enablers

​On this page: Enabler 1: Risk | Enabler 2: Science | Enabler 3: People | Enabler 4: Communication | Enabler 5: Governance

​​​Enabler 1: Risk—an anticipative approach to managing risk

Anticipating risk

Managing risk is at the core of what FSANZ does. This takes place at the scale of the overall business operations of the agency as well as in individual risk management strategies applied when balancing the risks and opportunities of individual changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. The FSANZ Board articulates the overall risk appetite for the agency and ensures appropriate strategies, practices and policies are in place to manage risk within that appetite.

Emerging issues and intelligence

FSANZ published its first Annual Emerging Issues report in February 2017 relating to the 2016 calendar year. The second report, relating to 2017 calendar year, was published in March 2018 and identified one new emerging issue and seventeen ongoing issues. The new emerging issue related to glutamates in food. This was identified in response the European Food Safety Authority publishing a new group acceptable daily intake of 30 mg/kg body weight per day for glutamate. FSANZ published information on glutamate as a food additive and reviewed the opinion published by EFSA. FSANZ determined that the EFSA opinion did not raise new safety issues.

Following the restructure of the agency our anticipatory approach to risk was further articulated with an overt ‘intelligence‘ function located in the Risk Management and Intelligence Branch. This signals the agency’s intention to be more strategic and forward-looking in how it sets itself up for the potential risks and opportunities of the future. FSANZ has begun reviewing the emerging issues system and will explore new methodologies to identify and understand future emerging issues and the underlying technological, social, environmental and political drivers underpinning them.

Behavioural and Regulatory Analysis

In 2017–18 FSANZ assisted the broader food regulatory system by providing behavioural and regulatory analysis advice and expertise in the policy development processes of Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC). In particular, FSANZ undertook extensive literature reviews on consumer attitudes and behaviours with respect to both sugar labelling and fats and oils labelling. Additionally, FSANZ provided regulatory impact assessment advice and guidance ensuring that the policy option consultation regulatory impact statement for sugar labelling was compliant with the requirements of the Office of Best Practice Regulation within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

In March 2018 FSANZ convened a workshop with jurisdictions on the better use of social sciences and economics in food regulation. Representatives from the jurisdictions, other Commonwealth government departments and experts from academia gave presentations, worked in groups and convened a panel discussion. The workshop identified areas where social sciences and economics could assist in delivering more effective and efficient food regulation. Follow up work will trial the use of social sciences and economics to ensure that regulation is better targeted and used only when necessary to achieve safe and suitable food for Australian and New Zealand consumers.

In 2017–18, FSANZ continued to invest in new approaches to behavioural and regulatory analysis. We commenced a scoping project to explore the feasibility of an ongoing consumer monitor—a regular survey of consumers’ responses and behaviours with respect to food, food safety and labelling. This will be completed in 2018–19 and may lead to the development of a longitudinal dataset of consumer behavioural and attitudinal data to track changes in consumer attitudes and behaviour through time. We also began a project to explore the use of expert elicitation in economic estimates for food regulation. This project seeks to enhance the accuracy of the data we use in assessing the impact of regulation on consumers, businesses and the government. This project will outline the possible approaches we could use, and it is expected that FSANZ will use expert elicitation to derive better estimates of the costs of labelling to industry.

Risk advice for imported food

Imported food is inspected and controlled using a risk-based border inspection program called the Imported Food Inspection Scheme, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR). We inform DAWR on whether foods pose a potential medium to high risk to public health and safety. DAWR then determines appropriate measures at the Australian border to manage the food safety risk.

In 2016–17 we reviewed our imported food risk advice processes. We developed a risk characterisation tool, new data handling and analysis procedures and modified the risk statement template, to ensure we could provide more contemporary fit-for-purpose advice to DAWR. A guideline document on imported food risk assessment in Australia has now been developed and peer reviewed. The guideline is expected to be published on the FSANZ website later in 2018 in two phases. The first part to be published will be on microbial risks and the second part will be on chemical risks.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and food

We support the implementation of the National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy through various activities. This year we commenced a project on AMR in the food supply chain to better understand the nature of the potential foodborne AMR hazard and develop a framework to assess risks from AMR in food. As part of this project, we hosted an inter-governmental gap analysis workshop in February 2018 to determine if gaps exist in assessing and managing risks associated with foodborne AMR and sought clarity on our role in assessing risk. We presented the findings of the gap analysis workshop to the Australian Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on AMR in June 2018. As part of the national AMR strategy, we also provide technical expertise to a working group, led by the Commonwealth Department of Health. We led the Australian delegation to the Codex ad hoc Taskforce on AMR which is currently developing draft Guidelines on Integrated Surveillance for AMR and reviewing the Code of Practice to Minimize and Contain AMR.

Enabler 2: Science—robust evidence and sustained, high quality scientific capacity

The Australian and New Zealand food regulatory system was established to address the desire for a safe food system and to protect health and safety. Scientific experts in a range of disciplines support the system providing advice on the evidence required to make regulatory decisions.

To ensure that FSANZ is undertaking high quality science, FSANZ implements a Science Strategy that outlines a strategic approach to ensuring our scientific capability. The strategy outlines how we will enhance our scientific capabilities in food regulatory science, our tools and our partnerships. It positions us to respond effectively to the strategic challenges of a complex operating environment.

The FSANZ Science Strategy 2017–2021 is the fifth such strategy. This strategy identifies three key strategic areas: Scientific Capability, Evidence and Collaboration.

FSANZ has staff with expertise in a broad range of scientific disciplines. However we also maximise our access to, and use of, external experts to provide advice on issues for which we do not have the specific technical or scientific expertise in-house. These experts may be from research agencies, universities and other organisations. Working with these experts helps to build our knowledge and facilitates a greater understanding and consensus on the science underpinning our work. We also ask external experts to peer review our work.

Under the FSANZ Fellows program we have set up a network of experts to provide us with objective expert advice and critical review of our work. This program also helps to develop academic links and networks.

The FSANZ student research project program incorporates scientific research from academic institutions into the work priorities of FSANZ. It provides students with an opportunity to gain research experience working alongside staff from Australia and New Zealand’s food regulatory agency. In participating, students can extend their knowledge of food regulatory science.

FSANZ also uses national and international networks to collaborate on projects and issues. These networks include the International Food Chemical Safety Liaison Group, the International Food Microbiological Safety Liaison Group and the Food Safety Quadrilateral Group.

To enhance collaboration with consumer and public health groups on a range of key food safety issues, FSANZ established the Consumer and Public Health Dialogue (CPHD). The CPHD is made up of representatives from peak consumer and public health bodies and public health academics.




Table 12: FSANZ Fellows
FSANZ FELLOW BACKGROUND/EXPERTISE
Professor Ken Buckle Food science, processing and microbiology
Dr Laurence Eyres Food technology
Professor Nigel French Molecular epidemiology and risk research
Professor Stephen Goodall Health economist
Professor Peter Langridge Genomics
Professor Brian Priestly Health risk assessment
Professor Seppo Salminen Intestinal micro biota and health, probiotics and prebiotics, health claims
Professor Murray Skeaff Nutrition
Professor Mark Tamplin Microbiology and food safety
Professor David Fraser Vitamin D
Dr Vanessa Jordan Methodologist and epidemiologist
Professor Samir Samman Human nutrition
Professor Wendy Umberger Agricultural and food economics
Professor Andrew Bartholomaeus Toxicology and human health risk assessment
Professor Bridget Hutter Social sciences

Data science

We are actively supporting and implementing the Australian Government Public Data Policy. To do this effectively, data science, management and support functions have been invested in a small team. The focus is building capacity in data management, business services, communication and solution development. A system to identify our data holdings and tag them with key words is undergoing testing. In addition, two key projects have been identified as the basis for further developing data management: the development of a unique food key and a metadata schema that can be applied to all of our data holdings.

Food composition

Silo food composition database development

We are close to completing work on redeveloping our food composition database platform, Silo, which will allow us to decommision our legacy system (the Australian Nutrient Database). The redeveloped platform (which is expected to be complete in July 2018) incorporates a range of enhanced functionality that, together with an upgraded website infrastructure, will allow more efficient compilation and reporting of food composition data and more regular publication of updated food composition data. Future enhancements to Silo will focus on storing and compiling other non nutrient concentration data for foods and linking these data to the dietary modelling platform Harvest.

Australian food composition database (NUTTAB)

We completed work on updating our reference database, the Australian Food Composition Database—Release 1. This release incorporates updated analytical data for a range of foods and nutrients generated by us or by external stakeholders. The publication also focussed on improving the look and feel of the webpages and explanatory notes as well as the online search function. Future work will include providing more frequent updates to nutrient data and the provision of additional statistical data, based on the new functionality available in Silo.

Analysis of nutrients in foods

We commissioned the laboratory analysis of 38 foods to strengthen the quality and robustness of our nutrient data holdings. The analyses focussed on foods which contribute significantly to the Australian population nutrient intake and for which our current data holdings were outdated or non-existent.

International

We participate in various international activities that involve food standards development and other harmonisation work, including:

  • Codex Alimentarius and its various committees
  • the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
  • the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD Working Group for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds)
  • the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF).

Through this involvement, we advance and contribute to the Australian Government’s food safety, public health and nutrition, and trade objectives.

Codex Alimentarius Commission

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) develops internationally recognised food standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to food commodities, food production and food safety to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in international food trade.

 

Our CEO Mark Booth attended the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) annual meeting as part of the Australian Government’s delegation. New batches of Codex standards are formally adopted at the annual meeting.

We lead the Australian delegation to five Codex committees or taskforces relating to food hygiene: food additives; contaminants in foods; nutrition and foods for special dietary uses; and antimicrobial resistance. We also provide scientific and technical input into several other Codex committees, including for food labelling; pesticide residues; general principles; fats and oils; fish and fishery products; and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Codex standards are specifically referenced by technical agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as representing the international consensus. As a signatory of the WTO, Australia may be required under international law to provide a justification where the Food Standards Code deviates from Codex.

In 2017–18, FSANZ scientists also attended the Joint Expert Meeting on Food Additives (JECFA) as invited experts. JECFA is the FAO/ WHO body which provides authoritative expert scientific advice to several Codex committees.

International food safety liaison groups

We collaborate with other authoritative international risk assessment or regulatory agencies by participating in various international liaison groups. The formal international liaison groups which we actively participate in are the international:

  • Chemical Food Liaison Group
  • Microbiological Food Safety Liaison Group
  • Risk Communication Liaison Group
  • Food Safety Regulatory Economics Liaison Group
  • Social Science Liaison Group
  • Health Claims Liaison Group
  • Methods for Risk Assessment of Chemicals Liaison Group.

These groups include representatives from agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency and the Japan Food Safety Commission

Relationships in the Asia-Pacific region

The APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) is a group of APEC food safety regulators and key international stakeholders. As an APEC sub-forum, FSCF works on behalf of APEC member economies to strengthen food safety systems, ensure a safer food supply and facilitate the harmonisation of member economies’ food standards to international standards through capacity building training, guideline development and information sharing activities.

FSANZ and the General Administration of Customs China (GACC) of the People’s Republic of China co-chair the FSCF and provide secretariat services. The secretariat services involve organising regular FSCF teleconferences, project specific meetings and workshops, and the biannual FSCF conference. The next FSCF conference will be held in May 2019 in Chile.

In 2017–18 we led a number of projects:

  • the development of an APEC alert system for food safety incidents
  • the harmonisation of import maximum residue limits (import MRLs) for pesticides
  • the development of an APEC framework for food safety modernisation.

The projects on MRLs and food safety modernisation result from two recent successful bids for new funds from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

FSANZ also co-sponsors and supports a range of other APEC projects, many of which are run as official APEC workshops.

OECD Conference on Genome Editing

Dr Lisa Kelly (pictured, fourth from left) from FSANZ recently participated in the OECD Conference on Genome Editing: Applications in Agriculture – Implications for Health, Environment and Regulation held in Paris, France on 28–29 June 2018. Dr Kelly gave a joint presentation with Dr Peter Thygesen (pictured, third from left) from the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator on current regulatory considerations in Australia on genome editing and also participated in a panel discussion with other government representatives from around the globe— Argentina, Canada, European Union, India and the United States.

The purpose of the conference was to provide an update on the current status and future prospects for genome editing applications in agriculture and to discuss the risk, safety and regulatory considerations. More than 200 hundred delegates representing governments from around the world participated. A conference proceedings will be published later in 2018.

Discussion session at the OECD conference on Genome Editing: Applications in Agriculture—Implications for Health, Environment and Regulation

Discussion session at the OECD conference on Genome Editing: Applications in Agriculture—Implications for Health, Environment and Regulation




Delegates attending an expert workshop

Delegates attending an expert workshop on trade facilitation through harmonization of import maximum residue limits on pesticides, held by FSANZ, in Haikou, China

International visitors

We hosted a number of international delegations during the year. These visits provide an opportunity to learn about the food safety issues and priorities of other food agencies. They also allow us to explain the Australia and New Zealand food regulatory system. Key visitors this year are summarised below.




Table 13: Key international delegations 2017–18
DATECOUNTRY/ORGANISATION VISITINGTOPICS
3 August 2017 Indonesian National Agency for Drug And Food Control (jointly with the Therapeutic Goods Administration) Overview of the food safety regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand.

Our role in the food standard development process.

Coordinating recalls and national food incidents.
12 September 2017 Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety Overview of the food safety regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand.

Our role in the food standard development process.
3 November 2017 Shandong Food and Drug Administration (China) Overview of the food safety regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand.

Our role in the food standard development process.
17 April 2018 Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety Overview of the food safety regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand.

Our role in the food standard development process.

Overview of regulatory system of raw materials for food.


Enabler 3—People

Staff forum

Open communication and information sharing between staff and the Executive is supported by the organisation and is encouraged in a number of ways, including through our Staff Forum. The forum includes representatives of each section of the agency and meets monthly.

The forum chair reports to the Executive each month to provide feedback on workplace issues raised by the forum representatives and any outcomes from the Executive are reported back to the staff forum.

During the organisation’s move to new premises, the Staff Forum acted as “Move Champs”. The Move Champs worked as a team sharing information and supporting each other and their fellow staff members both during and after the move.

In 2017–18 the Forum discussed a range of issues, however most of the discussion related to the Canberra office relocation. The Forum was also consulted on the workplace behaviour, under performance, travel, and work health and safety policies.

Sustainable development

In January 2018, our Canberra office moved from Barton into a 5 Star, green-star rated building at Majura Park. The building has been designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water use. Energy saving devices have been used throughout the building and the fitout to further reduce energy consumption.

FSANZ continues to work closely with the building owners to ensure efficiency of the Australian and New Zealand office air conditioning and electricity usage, limiting the overuse of energy during working hours. FSANZ has also contracted to source 10 per cent of energy provided to the Canberra office from renewable sources.

As part of our commitment to sustainable development, the following activities are being undertaken:

  • contracting services to recycle organic waste, paper and cardboard
  • reducing electricity use by encouraging staff to turn off computers and monitors when they leave for the night
  • reducing electricity by using sensors for the office lights in the Canberra office, ensuring lights are turned off when there is no movement in an area
  • providing recycling bins in all kitchens
  • recycling decommissioned computers, tablets and phones.

Training

FSANZ supported staff in a range of professional development activities during 2017–18. FSANZ spent almost $170,000 on staff development during the financial year and provided some in-house training available for all staff.

FSANZ employment profile

Tables 14–19 provide a summary of our employment profile for the year. Comparisons are made with the previous year’s data and to the APS overall. APS statistics were obtained from the APS Statistical Bulletin. The information below relates to numbers at 30 June. Employee numbers fell slightly in 2017–18. The use of non-ongoing employees increased during the year in order to manage workloads and deliver against priority work (see Table 13).

Table 14: Total employees
FSANZ 2016–17 APS DEC 2017 FSANZ 2017–18
Total employees 114 150,489 108
Total employees (ongoing) 100 136,392 97
Total employees (non-ongoing) 14 14,097 11
New Zealand-based employees 12 n/a 12


Table 15: Stability and mobility
FSANZ 2016–17 APS DEC 2017 FSANZ 2017–18
New starters – ongoing (% employees ongoing) 8 (8%) 9,213 (6.8%) 5 (4.6%)
New starters – non-ongoing 13 n/a 10
Separations ongoing 9 9,664 12
Retention rate (% ongoing employees) 91% n/a 88%


Table 16: Workforce diversity
APS DEC 2017 FSANZ 2017–18
ndigenous Australian employees 3.3% 0.0%
Employees with disability 3.6% 2.7%
Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) 14.2% 11.0%
Women 59% 64%
Part-time employees (ongoing) 15.8% 19.3%


FSANZ recruited a number of staff in 2016–17 as a result of staff separations. While there were only five new ongoing employees a further four non-ongoing employees became ongoing during the course of the year. The retention rate decreased in 2017–18, with a small round of voluntary redundancies resulting in a reduction of employees. Three of these roles were downgraded while the other has remained unfilled (see Table 14).

FSANZ has a specialised workforce. We will continue to encourage employees to report their diversity status, as a large proportion of employees have not done so. FSANZ continues to employ a higher proportion of women than the broader APS, with almost two thirds of our employees being women.

We continue to support flexible working arrangements for staff, with our part-time employment numbers (19 per cent) being significantly higher than the rest of the APS (see Table 15).

Table 17: Workforce experience
FSANZ 2016–17 APS DEC 2017 FSANZ 2017–18
Average length of service in APS (ongoing) 13 years 11 years 11 years


Table 18: Age structure
APS DEC 2017 FSANZ 2017–18
Less than 30 12.4% 4.6%
30 to 39 26.6% 24.8%
40 to 49 28.5% 24.8%
50 to 59 24.9% 34.9%
Over 60 7.0% 10.9%


Table 19: Classification structure
FSANZ 2016–17 APS DEC 2017 FSANZ 2017–18
APS levels 41% (46 people) 73.4% 39% (42 people)
EL levels 55% (63 people) 24.8% 57% (62 people)
SES 4% (5 people) 1.8% 4% (4 people)


FSANZ has a workforce with relatively similar experience to the average for the APS overall. Over the past 12 months a number of older more experienced people have departed from FSANZ which has resulted in a slightly younger less experienced workforce (see Table 16).

The proportion of our employees who are aged 50 and over has increased from 48 per cent of all employees to 45 per cent of employees in 2017–18. Those under 40 years are currently only 29 per cent of employees, compared with 39 per cent in the APS overall. The mean age of FSANZ employees is 47, compared with the APS mean age of 43 years (see Table 17).

Due to the nature of our work, involving large numbers of executive level employees with specialist scientific and technical skills, the proportion of APS level employees (39 per cent) is significantly less than the APS average of 73 per cent (see Table 18).

Employment environment

FSANZ completed the negotiation of its Enterprise Agreement in 2015–16. The agreement came into effect in May 2016 and remains in place for three years. All non-SES Australian employees are covered by the agreement, New Zealand employees and the SES have individual employment agreements.

Work health and safety

We are committed to work health and safety and demonstrate this through a number of initiatives one of which is the Health and Safety Committee. The committee is made up of representatives of management, work health and safety representatives, first-aid officers and workplace behaviour contact officers. It reports on a number of items including incidents reported, first aid reports and activities, workplace behaviour contacts and HR statistics that might identify if there is an area of concern within the agency.

We support activities that aim to contribute to the wellness of staff. In 2017 staff were responsible for forming the Mental Health Awareness Committee. This committee organises various activities throughout the year, providing information and support that contributes to the development of a positive and open culture around mental health and wellbeing.

In 2018 we provided all Canberra-based staff with electronic sit/stand work stations allowing staff to set appropriate heights for a sitting position and standing position and to easily be able to change between the settings. Workstation assessments were undertaken for all Canberra-based employees following the move to the new premises. Assessments were also provided for all new starters. Additionally, work station assessments were conducted for employees requiring an assessment throughout the year in other locations including home-based work employees. FSANZ also provided onsite flu vaccinations for all employees and reimbursement for some employees who received it at a different location.

Flexible working arrangements are encouraged to support work-life balance, 32 employees currently have formal flexible working arrangements in place, this includes seven employees with formal working from home agreements.

Workplace bullying and harassment

Trained harassment contact officers (now known as Workplace Behaviour Contact Officers) continued to help employees who feel they may have been discriminated against, bullied and/or harassed. In 2017–18 no formal complaints were made under the bullying and harassment guidelines. During the year, we implemented a new Workplace Behaviour Policy that provides guidance on appropriate behaviours and supports, encourages and enforces respectful and courteous workplace behaviour.

Workplace diversity and disability

Our Diversity Framework is an important part of the Diversity Plan component of our People Strategy. The framework includes our reconciliation and disability action plans. We raise awareness of the importance of considering diversity issues through recruitment processes by improving internal communication including at staff meetings. At present only a few employees identify as being from a diverse background, as defined by the Australian Public Service Commission.

Rewards and recognition

In 2017–18 three staff members were recognised for their contribution to the work of the agency. A further 13 staff were presented with long service awards. These employees were acknowledged and thanked for their contribution and dedication to the agency.

Chair’s Annual Development Award

The Chair’s Annual Development Award was awarded to Snezana Smiljanic for her excellent contribution to cross agency projects, her capacity to combine her interpersonal skills and technological knowledge to encourage organisational change through innovative solutions, a highly customer-centric manner and her ability to work with others.

Achievement Awards

In 2017–18 FSANZ combined the traditional Australia Day Award and Waitangi Day Award for the FSANZ Achievement Award as a cross agency initiative. This award acknowledges the contribution of an individual or team displaying innovation, outstanding performance, client service, corporate achievement or excellence while modelling the APS values in their core duties. The 2017–18 Achievement Awards were presented to two employees, Rosie Gooch and Janet Gorst.

Rosie received the Achievement Award for her exemplary organisational skills, commitment to the task, adherence to key APS values of accountability, ethics and respect, as well as her outstanding interpersonal and communication skills in managing the FSANZ Canberra relocation project.

Janet received the Achievement Award for consistently demonstrating excellent client service, her breadth of knowledge and helpfulness in dealing with GM enquiries and consistent building and maintaining of collegiate working relationships with colleagues and stakeholders, in particular facilitating and implementing the joint safety assessment review with Health Canada.

Board Chair Robyn Kruk presents Rosie Gooch with an Achievement Award Board Chair Robyn Kruk presents Snezana Smiljanic with the Chair’s Annual Development Award Board Chair Robyn Kruk presents Janet Gorst with an Achievement Award

Top: Board Chair Robyn Kruk presents Rosie Gooch with an Achievement Award Bottom left: Board Chair Robyn Kruk presents Snezana Smiljanic with the Chair’s Annual Development Award Bottom right: Board Chair Robyn Kruk presents Janet Gorst with an Achievement Award

Enabler 4: Communication—a broad communication capacity

Allergen Collaboration

Established by FSANZ in 2011, the Allergen Collaboration includes representatives from Australian and New Zealand government bodies; Australia and New Zealand allergy support associations and the food industry. It aims to improve how food allergen risks are managed with a view to helping consumers with a food allergy make safer choices.

Members of the collaboration met twice during the past year, including at a face-to-face meeting in Sydney in September 2017. At this meeting the members agreed to:

  • update the Allergen Collaboration communication strategy, including positioning the Food Allergen Portal as a source of best practice food allergen information, and as part of this, undertake a refresh of the portal, which is hosted on the FSANZ website
  • greater alignment between the collaboration and the Australian National Allergy Strategy, and
  • repeat the 2012 audit of available educational resources.

In November 2017, FSANZ reported back to the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation on progress by the Collaboration on promoting the uptake of voluntary allergen labelling initiatives. This report noted an online survey undertaken by the Allergen Collaboration to explore awareness and use of voluntary labelling initiatives for allergen management by food industry. The Allergen Collaboration intends using the survey results to consider further approaches to promote the uptake of voluntary labelling initiatives.

Case study

New Breeding Techniques infographic

In February 2018 we released a consultation paper seeking feedback from the community on whether food derived from new breeding techniques (NBTs) should be captured for pre-market safety assessment approval. To support the consultation paper, FSANZ developed an infographic demonstrating the outcomes produced from these techniques which was published to the website and shared over social media and through our news subscription service.

Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder engagement is a vital part of FSANZ’s work and helps ensure our work continues to meet the needs of our stakeholders. Engagement takes many forms, informally—through daily interactions between staff and stakeholders, our social media networks, and formally through our committees and forums.

FSANZ has several committees established to maintain engagement with all stakeholders. These committees include the Consumer and Public Health Dialogue and the Retailers and Manufacturers Liaison Committee. We are also involved in international networks and committees.

In 2017–18 we fielded more than 1350 enquiries through our code enquiries email box and more than 800 through our information email address. Staff from across the agency also logged responses to almost 200 complex enquiries.

We saw a slight decrease in the number of enquiries through these channels as a result of the publication of a new frequently asked questions page on our website. The webpage provides easy access to 36 common questions and answers.

Mandatory allergen labelling

In 2017–18 we continued working on communication to highlight to industry the importance of allergen labelling. This work included pro-active media and social media to remind businesses that mandatory allergen labelling for lupin commenced in May 2018 and a revised allergen poster.

We also participated in a AusIndustry Entrepreneurs’ Program webinar series on Allergens in the Food Industry. These webinars brought together industry experts to talk with small to medium businesses on the importance of getting product labelling right and food recalls.

Social media

FSANZ’s social media channels continue to be a valuable way to communicate with our audience in real time about the work of our agency. In 2017–18 our Twitter audience grew by 30 percent to 6,500 followers and our Facebook page reached a record 26,000 followers. Food recall notifications continue to attract significant engagement and we use these as an opportunity to educate and inform industry stakeholders and consumers about our role in the regulatory system and the importance of food safety.

In September we ran a week-long social media campaign #foodtechweek to raise awareness about the use of technology in food as well as addressing some common misconceptions.

The campaign explored a range of topics including the use of emerging technologies in food. The campaign had an audience reach and engagement of more than 61,000.

Publications

FSANZ has a number of ongoing publications including the email newsletter Food Standards News (with a reach of more than 8000). Other publications published this year included:

New chapter in Agents of Foodborne Illness

In November 2017 FSANZ published a new chapter in Agents of Foodborne Illness. The new chapter is on norovirus—the main cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans worldwide. It is highly contagious due to its very low infectious dose, stability in the environment and resistance to many common disinfectants.

Stakeholder Survey

We published the results of a stakeholder survey undertaken in 2017. The results were overwhelmingly positive, however they also indicated there is work for us to do in some areas, including continuing our education campaign on who does what in the food regulation system.

Systematic review of the evidence for relationships between specified fatty acids and blood cholesterol

The systematic review included our consideration of three EU-authorised health claims:

  • replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels
  • α-linolenic acid contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels
  • linoleic acid contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol level.

A Compendium of Microbiological Criteria

The Compendium of Microbiological Criteria for Food is a compilation of process hygiene criteria that have been established for specific food commodities and microbiological guideline criteria used for ready-to-eat foods. An update to the Compendium was published in 2018.     

A guide for submitting MRL requests

This guide provides information on requests to FSANZ to consider harmonising maximum residue limits (MRLs) in Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code with limits established by Codex or the country/ region in which the food commodity was produced to import into Australia. It provides an overview of the information FSANZ requires to assess requests.

Literature review on consumer knowledge, attitudes and behaviours relating to sugars and food labelling

The literature review examined consumer knowledge, attitudes and behaviours relating to sugars in foods and as presented on food labelling. The literature sourced for this review is of varying quality and uses different methodological approaches.

Website

FSANZ’s website is our key communication platform and continues to attract about 1 million visitors a year. Our analytics reveal our tools (nutrition panel calculator and NUTTAB) are amongst the most popular content along with information about food labelling and food safety.

Following user testing, stakeholder workshops and surveys we have identified key areas for improvement with our existing website. This includes search functionality and accessibility of some content which will be addressed with the rollout of SharePoint 2016 in July 2018.

Our website infrastructure has undergone a substantial upgrade with improved capability and enhanced features. This will allow us to extend the functionality for a new redeveloped Nutrition Panel Calculator and NUTTAB.

Information and Communication Technology

Our website infrastructure has undergone a substantial upgrade with improved capability and enhanced features. This will allow us to add new functions in a redeveloped Nutrition Panel Calculator and NUTTAB.

We have also created a mobile workplace in the new office, allowing staff to work on their mobile devices anywhere in the Canberra and Wellington offices and at home.

All video conference systems were renewed and full compatibility now exists between the Canberra and Wellington offices. The new systems also allow staff to share the content of their mobile device to the larger screen and to a remote recipient. We also doubled the size of the communications link between Canberra and Wellington, which has improved our video conferencing and other communication capabilities between the two offices.

FSANZ took advantage of the office move to upgrade some of our server infrastructure and core communications hardware. We also installed new uninterrupted power supplies which will support business continuity in the case of a disaster.

Our external SharePoint infrastructure and most internal applications were upgraded and new environments were deployed for a food composition database (Silo) to meet development requirements. The development, test and production environments for Silo development were completed and will allow for an easy transition to production.

Information and records management

FSANZ showed continued improvement in the 2017 Check-Up Digital survey of digital information management capability. We continue to work towards the Digital Continuity 2020 deadline. Electronic forms for business processes are being developed and our paper record digitisation program is complete. FSANZ has also established an Information Governance Committee and has implemented an Information Governance Framework and Digital Strategy.

Our new data registry that stores our key scientific data is now in production and ensures that FSANZ data is accessible to all staff.

Enabler 5: Governance—good governance and effective processes

Governance and parliament

FSANZ has processes and practices in place to manage interaction with ministers and their officers, as well as other government departments. Most of our contact with the office of Senator the Hon Minister Bridget McKenzie relates to the preparation of briefing material for food-related matters.

Performance

Ministerial correspondence

FSANZ provides input to correspondence handled by the Minister’s office. FSANZ also provides input into correspondence on a number of matters relating to FSANZ responsibilities for other Commonwealth, state and territory departments.

Issues raised in correspondence included nanoparticles in infant formula, food labelling, contaminants in food, food recalls and maximum residue limits.

Table 20: Ministerial Correspondence
2017–18 2016–17 2015–16
Completed on time 39 (100%) 38 (100%) 28 (100%)
1–2 days late 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
3–7 days late 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
8–14 days late 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
>14 days late 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
TOTAL for action 39 (100%) 38 (100%) 28 (100%)
For info / no further action 18 20 27


Table 21: Ministerial submissions
2017–18 2016–17 2015–16
Sent 2 4 14
Returned 1 2 14

Issues raised in the two ministerial submissions related to the Annual Report and cost recovery.

Table 22: Briefing note requests
2017–18 2016–17 2015–16
Sent 17 21 16
Late 0 0 0

FSANZ responded to or generated briefing note requests on a number of matters relating to our responsibilities, as well as providing input into briefings which were the responsibility of the Department of Health or other departments. Issues included board meeting outcomes, new breeding techniques, nanoparticles and food incidents.

Table 23: Parliamentary questions on notice
2017–18 2016–17 2015–16
Received 1 0 0
Sent 1 0 0
Late 0 0 0


Question time briefings

Ministers are asked questions without notice during Question Time in the Parliament and these must be responded to orally. Confidential briefings are prepared by FSANZ to assist the Minister to respond to any questions which fall within their responsibilities. FSANZ was required to prepare one QTB in 2017–18.

Senate estimates

Senior staff were required to appear before Senate Estimates on three occasions during 2017–18 (October 2017, February 2018 and May 2018).

Issues raised during the hearings related to nano-hydroxyapatite and glyphosate.

FSANZ answered 23 questions on notice.

Parliamentary enquiries

Nil

Notice of motion

Nil

FSANZ Board

We are governed by a 12-member Board, whose members are drawn from Australia and New Zealand. Members have a number of areas of expertise covering public health, food science, medical science, consumer policy, primary industry, the food industry and government.

The nine Australian members are appointed by the Australian Minister for Health, in consultation with the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, following consultation with the Australian, state, territory and New Zealand governments and consideration by the Cabinet. The three New Zealand members are nominated by the New Zealand Government and appointed by the Australian Minister for Health.

All members are part-time, except for the FSANZ Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Details of the qualifications of Board members and their attendance at meetings are summarised in Appendix 2.

In July 2017 Ms Teresa Ciprian and Professor Mark Lawrence were appointed to the Board and Emeritus Professor Mary Barton and Professor Martin Cole were reappointed for a further term. In October 2017 Ms Suzanne Chetwin, Ms Josephine Davey, and Mr John Hart were appointed to the Board.

The term of Dr Andrew McKenzie ceased on 30 June 2018. Dr McKenzie was a former Chief Executive of New Zealand’s Food Safety Authority and provided useful insight from running a similar agency. His Codex and international trade perspectives, combined with his veterinary science foundation enabled a highly effective and influential contribution to the Board’s deliberations. Dr McKenzie chaired the Board’s Finance and Risk Management Committee and was instrumental in bringing greater transparency to FSANZ’s risk analysis considerations.

The Board recognises the importance of applying sound governance principles and practices. It has adopted a Board Charter to ensure that FSANZ meets its objectives. The Charter sets out the Board’s objectives, authority, composition and tenure, reporting and administrative arrangements. The Charter also sets out the Board’s roles and responsibilities, including:

  • establishing and disclosing the respective roles and responsibilities of the Board and management
  • exercising key Board functions efficiently and effectively, including ethical and responsible decision-making
  • exercising sound Board governance processes to facilitate the achievement of FSANZ’s objectives
  • striving to continuously improve Board and FSANZ processes.

The Board meets at least four times per year and also convenes through teleconferences as required. Four Board meetings and three Board teleconferences were held during 2017–18. Outcomes of FSANZ Board meetings are published on our website.

Ethical standards

The Board Charter outlines Board members’ responsibilities in dealing with directors’ conflicts of interest and material personal interests. The Board also has an agreed process for managing conflicts of interest for FSANZ Board members as required by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014

Board development and review

New Board members are provided with a formal induction which includes a meeting with the Board Chair, FSANZ CEO and Executive Management team. Board members are also provided with an Induction Manual (which includes the Board Charter, Corporate Plan, Business Plan and other relevant information).

Board members also attend an annual formal training session. This session covers issues such as the duties and responsibilities of directors; the unique perspective of a Board functioning under the PGPA Act; and the need for directors to have an independent view and governance.

Board performance

The Board Charter includes a requirement that a formal review of the performance of the Board be undertaken every two years. The review is conducted using a mix of external evaluation and facilitated selfassessment with appropriate input sought from all parties including the Board, the CEO, the internal and external auditors, management and any other relevant stakeholders, as determined by the Board.

Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee (FARMC)

The Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee (FARMC) consists of nonexecutive Board Directors, and supports the Board’s oversight responsibilities relating to the financial and business affairs of FSANZ, the preparation and integrity of our financial accounts and statements, internal controls, policies and procedures used to identify and manage business risks, insurance activities, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and compliance policies.

During 2017–18, the FARMC continued to monitor the corporate governance and risk management activities of the organisation, advising the Board on FSANZ’s appetite for risk in relation to strategic, operational and fraud control matters. During the year the committee reviewed the Risk Registers to ensure they are fit for purpose. The review resulted in documents that are easier to manage and maintain. The committee regularly monitors the identification and management of risks to FSANZ, providing assurance that reasonable steps have been taken to address the risks by reducing the likelihood they (and their consequences) will occur.

FARMC also oversees our corporate risk assessment processes, and these risk assessments inform both FARMC’s risk monitoring activities and the Strategic Internal Audit Plan. Internal audits considered by FARMC in 2017–18 related to work health and safety compliance and performance, and budget and financial reporting. An assurance mapping project was also undertaken to provide the FARMC, the CEO and senior management with a comprehensive overview of its key business processes, associated risks and the related assurance activities in place.

FARMC also continued to provide independent assurance and advice to the Board on FSANZ’s risk, control, compliance, governance framework, and its financial statement responsibilities.

FARMC observers included representatives from the Australian National Audit Office and the FSANZ CEO.

Remuneration and Senior Staff Committee

The Remuneration and Senior Staff Committee of the Board meets infrequently to consider issues such as remuneration and performance standards for the CEO, as well as Board remuneration issues (which are determined by the Remuneration Tribunal).

The committee comprises three members (a chair, plus two). The General Manager, Food Safety and Corporate Branch provides secretariat support to the committee.

Directors’ insurance

Under the Comcover Statement of Cover, FSANZ maintained professional indemnity insurance coverage for our directors (Board members) and officers of $100 million.​

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