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Community involvement and consultation during the assessment process

FSANZ is committed to community involvement and recognises that community involvement is a two-way process. Effective consultation begins with FSANZ being very open about food standards being developed and informing the community about the processes and issues pertinent to each application and proposal. FSANZ is also very welcoming of comments on each application and proposal, either as formal submissions on assessment reports or through participation at stakeholder forums.

This commitment has its basis in the FSANZ Act and reflects the need to ensure that consultation informs the assessment of applications.

The aim of FSANZ’s approach to consultation is to adopt a flexible approach, varying the scope and intensity of community involvement to suit the circumstances and importance of the issues under consideration. A variety of community involvement techniques are used to best suit the diverse needs of those being consulted and people and organisations are encouraged to use a variety of methods to make their views known.

Interest groups and individuals have differing resources and this affects their ability to become involved in the consultation process.

New Zealand has its own statutory obligations under the New Zealand Food Act 1981 when issuing food standards. Whilst they differ slightly, these requirements are accommodated in FSANZ’s stated consultation processes.

The process by which FSANZ considers food standards matters is open, accountable, consultative and transparent. The purpose of inviting public submissions is to obtain the views of interested parties on the issues raised by the application and the impacts of regulatory options. The issues raised in the public submissions are evaluated and addressed in FSANZ’s assessment reports.

In many cases there will be strong conflicting views expressed by submitters. It can be expected that some of the views expressed will be subjective, with no supporting evidence provided, or maybe a selective use of evidence or references. The FSANZ approach has to be consistent and decisions have to be based on the best available scientific evidence.

FSANZ needs to ensure that it has collected sufficient evidence, including from outside experts if necessary, in order to be able to undertake a rigorous analysis of each case. In some situations the best available scientific evidence is irrefutable. In others there might be conflicting scientific views, a lack of evidence or some uncertainty in the science. Where the evidence is in dispute, FSANZ will ensure that it sets out the reasoning and logic used to reach its decision/s.



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