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Corporate Plan 2012-2015

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A safe food supply protecting and supporting the health of people in Australia and New Zealand

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) will contribute to a safe food supply in Australia and New Zealand by developing and maintaining effective evidence-based food standards.

Table of Contents

Message from the Chair

FSANZ is a central player in the food regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand and is well respected internationally as a world-class food regulator.

Food standards exist to help consumers and industry. They facilitate business and commerce in food and protect the immediate health and safety of consumers. They also contribute to longer term public policy objectives, especially when part of a coordinated set of strategies aimed at improving diet-related contributions to public health.

In recent years, FSANZ has undertaken a number of initiatives to help ensure our decisions continue to be based on the best available evidence and are supported by a high level of consultation and transparency. Our scientific base and approach to risk assessment has been strengthened, drawing on both domestic and international scientific expertise. The risk management decisions resulting from our work are based on solid evidence as well as an awareness of contemporary public health issues, emerging technologies used in the wider food industry, and current and emerging community questions.

In this plan, we outline how we will seek to reinforce and build on the work to strengthen our scientific capacity; build stronger links with local food regulatory agencies and counterpart agencies throughout the world; develop constructive working relationships with the primary production and processed food sectors; and strengthen our connection with consumers and public health agencies.

FSANZ is a repository of risk analysis expertise in Australia and New Zealand. It is well recognised as an authoritative and balanced source of information on food safety, dietary modelling, industry food production practices and other related matters. We aim to work with other key agencies to better respond to the diverse range of interests that compete in the market for food. The interface with nutrition and preventative health strategies are areas where FSANZ’s expertise is likely to be increasingly important in the future.

For small agencies in particular, resources are always stretched. With this in mind, FSANZ will need to be mindful of its legislative commitments and ‘must dos’. These remain the core of our work. We may also need to say 'no' to some work—or stage it. Quality is better than quantity when it comes to our standards and the other results of our work.

In this complex environment, FSANZ will build on what I see as being its core strengths—being evidenced-based, professional and working collaboratively with all of our stakeholders.

PHILIPPA SMITH AM

Chair

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Who we are

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is a Commonwealth authority established under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (the FSANZ Act).

The object of the FSANZ Act is to achieve a high standard of public health protection by means of the establishment of a statutory authority, FSANZ, to achieve the following goals:

  • 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 food regulatory framework
  • information for consumers that is adequate to enable informed food choices, and
  • common rules for Australia and New Zealand and consistency with international food regulatory standards, without compromising public health and consumer protection.

FSANZ works in a multi-jurisdictional food regulation system that engages the national governments of Australia and New Zealand and each of the Australian states and territories. Responsibility for establishing policy and making laws sits with the parliamentary representatives of the jurisdictions. The jurisdictions are also responsible for enforcing their own food laws, which apply standards developed by FSANZ to support a consistent approach to food safety.

A treaty between the Australian and New Zealand governments provides for the development of common food standards that support consistent approaches to food regulation and free trade between the two countries.

The Food Regulatory System

A visual representation of the Food Regulatory System (2012)

View the text version of the food regulatory system diagram.

FSANZ’s key work is developing food regulatory measures, commonly known as food standards. Food standards are, in effect, risk management decisions made by the FSANZ Board to deliver safe and affordable food to the general community. To do this, FSANZ must work with industry, understand the technologies that are used and develop risk mitigation strategies that permit appropriate use of technologies while addressing legitimate concerns about food safety. This is done through a process set out in the FSANZ Act. The elements of that process include:

  • full consideration of public health and safety issues, the provision of adequate information to consumers and the prevention of misleading or deceptive conduct
  • a commitment to transparency and consultation
    • FSANZ publishes details of its consideration of standards, and
    • FSANZ requires at least one round of public consultation for most applications and proposal
  • a robust consideration of the costs of regulation
  • appropriate regard to the need for risk assessment to be based on the best available science, the promotion of consistent domestic and international standards, the desirability of an efficient and competitive food industry, the promotion of fair trading in food, and
  • appropriate regard to written policy guidelines notified to FSANZ by ministers through the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation.

FSANZ scientific excellence is a critical input for policy makers and enforcement activity. In particular, our scientific capacity underpins effective responses to emerging food incidents and recalls. FSANZ is also a primary source of information for consumers about food safety and quality.

FSANZ will continue to work closely with other government agencies that have a leading role in food safety, nutrition, preventative health, and the collection and analysis of health and wellbeing statistics, to identify and support research that assists in standards development and the implementation of government-led public health initiatives.

FSANZ will also continue to be a major contributor to the development of international standards for food safety by participating in international, regional and bilateral negotiations on matters that may be included in standards. FSANZ also makes its knowledge, expertise, equipment, facilities and intellectual property available to others in the food standards realm on a commercial basis.

Vision, strategic imperatives and values

Vision

A safe food supply protecting and supporting the health of people in Australia and New Zealand.

Mission

To develop effective food standards in collaboration with the Australian and New Zealand governments.

Strategic imperatives

  • Build and sustain food standards and practices to support high standards of public health protection and a dynamic and sustainable food manufacturing sector.
  • Maintain a transparent and evidence-based approach to regulation and the management of food risks .
  • Support informed consumer decisions about food by collecting and providing relevant information .

values

  • Striving for professionalism and excellence in whatever we do.
  • Collaborating effectively to achieve results.
  • Being inclusive in how we work.
  • Being transparent in our decision making and processes.
  • Being proactive and responsive in identifying and questioning of issues raised.
  • Demonstrating innovation and creativity as well as consistency in the work we do.
  • Showing leadership of the highest standard.

What is critical in 2012–15

Build and sustain food standards and practices to support high standards of public health protection and a dynamic and sustainable food manufacturing sector.

Food standards play a critical role in protecting the immediate health and safety of consumers and make a positive contribution to longer term public health objectives, especially when part of a coordinated set of strategies aimed at improving diet-related contributions to public health.

Everything that FSANZ does in its standards-setting work should be aimed at ensuring the food industry is able to make safe, suitable and healthy products that are in all ways fit for purpose, and provide consumers with adequate information about their food choices. FSANZ is required, when making standards, to seek to inform consumers and prevent misleading or deceptive conduct without compromising food safety.

Key work priorities for FSANZ in the 2012–15 period include sharpening our advisory role on imported food control arrangements; completing work on the remaining food safety and primary production and processing standards; and commencing a review of a number of existing food standards to ensure they remain ‘fit for purpose’.

In achieving these outcomes, FSANZ will apply the highest standards of scientific and economic analysis to its work to ensure that the benefits of any regulation outweigh the costs. FSANZ will also continue to review how to integrate in its evaluation consideration of longer term preventative health benefits.

Maintain a transparent and evidence-based approach to regulation and the management of food risks.

FSANZ has a specific function in food regulation. It does not set regulatory policy and it is not responsible for enforcement.

Nonetheless, FSANZ has a critical role in ensuring that food standards respond to the requirements of the Australian and New Zealand communities, which are set out in ministerial guidelines and other policy guidance.

The community expects that FSANZ will:

  • rely on the best available scientific evidence
  • promote and support the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework
  • promote confidence in the safety of the food supply
  • be transparent
  • be unbiased
  • be alert to new developments and concerns.

Confidence in FSANZ’s performance as a regulator will be enhanced by providing clarity about the way FSANZ approaches regulation, the policies that it applies when undertaking its work and the risk analysis parameters that it will apply—particularly its appetite for risk in standards-setting.

In the period 2012–15, key priorities for FSANZ will include improving the clarity and transparency of the Food Standards Code by providing interpretive advice and implementing Code reform; and defining our risk appetite to better articulate the regulatory posture of the FSANZ Board in its risk management decision-making.

Support informed consumer decisions about food by collecting and providing relevant information.

Consumer expectations about the information they want differ according to individual needs and values. Labelling provisions need to be effective and efficient. Providing consumers with accurate, easy to understand information facilitates informed decision-making. Labelling must be accurate and comprehensive, but not overwhelming or confusing. Statements on food labels and other claims must be truthful and must not mislead or deceive consumers in relation to the safety, composition, nutritional value or stated benefit of the food.

The key priority for FSANZ over the next three years will be implementing the reforms agreed to by governments in their response to the Labelling Logic: Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (2011) report. Ministers have supported a three-tier, risk-based hierarchy for food labelling issues described in the Labelling Logic review. They are prioritised in descending order of: food safety, preventative health and consumer values.

FSANZ will also work with other information providers to avoid duplication and inconsistency. The role of FSANZ is to provide information to assist consumers in their decision-making. Other agencies, at all levels of government and in the community, will also continue to play a role in shaping or guiding consumer choices. FSANZ will encourage and, where appropriate, lead that activity.

FSANZ has a primary risk communication function to inform consumers, including industry, about the standards it has developed and the information that underpins FSANZ decision-making. FSANZ will work in 2012–15 to enhance its capacity to communicate the scientific and economic analysis that underpins its decision making—especially having regard to the diverse audiences we speak to on a day-to-day basis.

How will we work to achieve our strategic imperatives

To develop and sustain confidence in food regulation, FSANZ must clearly have strong capabilities in those areas that directly affect the development and communication of standards. The agency will collect and analyse health and wellbeing statistics and have due regard to government-led public health initiatives. It must also liaise with a range of non-governmental organisations and individuals including consumer and industry groups, to ensure issues are fully explored and views considered.

To operate efficiently in the anticipated environment, FSANZ first and foremost relies on its staff. Whether they contribute directly to the strategic imperatives or deliver essential supporting functions, FSANZ’s staff are its key asset and its means of achieving its vision.

FSANZ has identified five key enablers that will operate across the agency to assist staff to deliver the strategic imperatives. These enablers are:

  • science – sustained, leading edge scientific capability
  • people – dedicated people with a broad spread of specialist disciplines
  • communication – a broad communication capacity
  • governance and process – good governance and effective processes
  • anticipation – an anticipative approach to emerging issues.

Access to and relying on leading edge scientific capacity

Since FSANZ’s work on standards is evidence based, it is essential that the agency maintain a leading edge scientific capability to address the issues that emerge daily in developing standards and in handling related issues. The FSANZ Science Strategy 2010–15 identifies areas for continuous improvement in our scientific capability and in meeting future challenges. These areas are: enhancing our evidence base; building our collaboration and international links with the science community; enhancing our scientific communication and stakeholder engagement; enhancing our capability to identify and respond to emerging issues; providing leadership in developing regulatory science; and measuring our scientific performance.

Quality and dedication of our people

A well-qualified and experienced workforce is vital for FSANZ to complete its work. As a science-based organisation, FSANZ needs people with qualifications and experience in a wide range of the traditional food-related scientific disciplines such as chemistry, toxicology, microbiology, nutrition and food technology and food analytical testing methods. People with skills in dietary modelling, epidemiology and risk analysis are also critical. Skills in the economic and social sciences, communication and the law have become increasingly important to support efficient and effective regulation. FSANZ is reviewing and refining its workforce plan to better understand the current skills and capabilities of its staff and to identify how it can continue to foster a workforce that meets these diverse requirements.

FSANZ accepts the fact that it will not always be possible to have these skills in house. Accordingly, an important part of FSANZ’s capability and capacity relies on access to outside expertise through mechanisms such as the FSANZ Fellows Program and links to academic, research and regulatory institutions in and outside Australia.

Our communication capacity

The Communications Strategy 2012–15 recognises that all FSANZ staff have a role in communication. The strategy identifies key communication measures that can help FSANZ to meet its strategic imperatives and ensure the vast array of information developed by FSANZ is accessible and fit for purpose. Communication is a two–way process. FSANZ needs to access critical information from consumers, industry and other regulatory agencies to use in its risk analysis processes and to understand its stakeholders’ needs and expectations.

The Communications Strategy identifies a growing reliance on social media to communicate efficiently with a range of audiences and the importance of using media to enhance role clarity and to explain risk management decisions.

Appropriateness and effectiveness of our governance and processes

The Board and executive are committed to the good governance of FSANZ and use the FSANZ Corporate Governance Framework to assist in achieving this. The framework details the systems, policies and procedures that have been agreed to in the agency to create effective processes. In addition:

  • the Board oversees the management of the agency
  • senior management guides and monitors work
  • management and staff disclose all material matters in a timely and accurate manner
  • policies are used to manage our relationships with stakeholders—including employees, Parliament, industry, consumer and health groups and the public.

Effective process is critical to the way FSANZ goes about its business and meets its legislative obligations. FSANZ will continue to look at ways of improving its business efficiency and will undertake a number of business process reviews in the 2012–15 period.

Our ability to look forward and respond quickly to emerging issues

In a world where food science issues can change quickly, it is essential for FSANZ to be familiar with this dynamic environment to ensure that public health and safety can be protected. In this regard, FSANZ is implementing a framework that will better codify its systems for identifying, assessing and acting on emerging issues globally, to facilitate responses to food safety issues.

Strategic map

Our vision

A safe food supply protecting and supporting the health of people in Australia and New Zealand

Our mission

To develop and sustain effective food standards in collaboration with the Australian and New Zealand governments

Our Strategic Imperatives

Build and sustain food standards and practices to support high standards of public health protection and a dynamic and sustainable food manufacturing sector

Maintain a transparent and evidence-based approach to regulation and the management of food risks

Support informed consumer decisions about food by collecting and providing relevant information

Our values

Professional

Collaborative

Inclusive

Transparent

Proactive and responsive

Innovative, creative and consistent

Leadership

Our key enablers

Science: sustained, leading edge scientific capability

People: dedicated people with a broad spread of specialist disciplines

Communication: a broad communication capacity

Governance and process: good governance and effective processes

Anticipation: an anticipative approach to emerging issues

Our stakeholdersneeds

Clear, easy-to-understand standards that can be efficiently implemented. Collaboration with other agencies contributing to effective policies and strategies

An understanding of the manner in which FSANZ assesses issues and makes judgements

Clear product information to facilitate informed decisions

Program focus

Sharpening FSANZ ’s advisory role on imported food control arrangements

Improving FSANZ tools that support effective, compliant and transparent decision-making

Working with government, industry and consumers to address and implement the Food Labelling Review outcomes

Completing work on the remaining food safety and primary production and processing standards

Revising the Food Standards Code to remove ambiguity

Redesigning the FSANZ website

Commencing a staged review of the existing food standards

Defining FSANZ risk appetite to focus the regulatory approach and integrate risk management strategies

Enhancing scientific communication capacity to simplify message delivery

Copyright notice

© Food Standards Australia New Zealand 2012

ISBN: 978-0-642-34578-3 Corporate plan 2012-2015 (online version)

Published July 2012

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) supports and encourages the dissemination and exchange of information. Information in this Corporate Plan is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) Licence, except for the Food Standards Australia New Zealand logo. An electronic version of this work is available on the FSANZ website at www.foodstandards.gov.au and, for New Zealand, www.foodstandards.govt.nz.

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Attribution

You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the material in this publication by the CC BY 3.0 licence for commercial and non-commercial purposes; but you must attribute the work in the following manner:

© Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

This attribution must not, in any way, suggest that FSANZ endorses you or your use of the work.

For more information email info@foodstandards.gov.au. Alternatively, our postal addresses are available on our contact us page.

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