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Chapter 4 - Key enablers

FSANZ’s Corporate Plan identifies five key enablers (capabilities) that will operate across the agency to help staff deliver the organisation’s strategic imperatives. These enablers are:

  • Risk: an anticipative approach to managing risk
  • Science: robust evidence and sustained, high quality scientific capacity
  • People: dedicated people with a broad spread of specialist disciplines
  • Communication: a broad communication capability
  • Governance: good governance and effective processes.

Enabler 1: Risk

Anticipating risk

Being able to anticipate risk is crucial for an organisation like FSANZ. Risk anticipation is embedded in a number of day-to-day practices i.e. through carefully watching the media landscape, or talking with international partners and keeping an eye on scientific research relating to food regulation and food safety.

However a number of more formal processes are in place to ensure the organisation is ready to respond to emerging issues.

Emerging issues

Emerging food safety risks generally refers to a new hazard that may become a food safety risk or a known hazard due to an unexpected new exposure or increased exposure that may cause food safety risk. To reduce the adverse impact imposed by emerging food safety risks, FSANZ aims to identify early signs of emerging food safety risks (defined as emerging issues), assess the likelihood of occurrence and, when necessary, develop and implement appropriate risk mitigation measures.

FSANZ developed a framework for addressing emerging and ongoing issues in 2011. Under this framework, FSANZ collects intelligence about food safety from a range of sources, including international networks and scientific literature. FSANZ published the first Annual Report on Emerging and Ongoing Issues—2016 in January 2017. The report describes emerging food safety issues identified by FSANZ and provides a brief description of their current status.

Responding to emerging issues

Risk advice for imported food

FSANZ plays a role in ensuring the safety of imported food by providing risk statements to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) on foods that potentially present a medium or high risk. This information is then used by DAWR to determine if foods should be classed as ‘risk foods’ and to determine appropriate risk management measures.

A review of the currently listed ‘risk category foods’ was completed in November 2016. In total, 61 food hazard risk statements were provided to DAWR and published on FSANZ’s website. Planning is now progressing for transitioning into a rolling review phase, with several technical workshops already conducted. It is anticipated a framework for the ongoing review of risk advice will be in place by June 2018.

A review of the currently listed ‘risk category foods’ was completed in November 2016. In total, 61 food hazard risk statements were provided to DAWR and published on FSANZ’s website. Planning is now progressing for transitioning into a rolling review phase, with several technical workshops already conducted. It is anticipated a framework for the ongoing review of risk advice will be in place by June 2018.

Report on per- and poly-fluoroalkylated substances (PFAS)

At the request of the Australian Government Department of Health, FSANZ completed a comprehensive review and safety assessment of three per- and poly-fluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) and recommended Australian health- based guidance values, of tolerable daily intakes (TDI) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). There was insufficient evidence available to allow a separate TDI to be established for perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS). These TDIs will help food regulatory authorities consistently manage contamination arising from the use of PFAS containing fire-fighting foams at civil and defence air bases and other sites. Following a call for data on the occurrence of PFAS in food we also prepared a preliminary dietary exposure assessment for people sourcing food from or near contaminated sites. There was insufficient data to carry out a dietary exposure assessment for the general population. FSANZ developed ‘trigger points’ (maximum concentration levels) to help state and territory food regulators determine if further investigation on food analytical results may be required and help them to develop appropriate advice about eating food grown near areas potentially contaminated with PFAS.

FSANZ also considered whether a food regulatory measure should be considered as an appropriate risk management response. FSANZ concluded that current at-site risk management measures by Commonwealth, state and territory jurisdictions to manage and reduce potential dietary exposure from these chemicals are the most suitable risk management measures at this stage, rather than setting maximum levels for PFAS in the Code.

The FSANZ reports can be found on the Australian Government Department of Health’s website.

Enabler 2: Science

FSANZ Science Strategy 2016–20

The overall aim of the FSANZ science strategy 2016–2020 is to develop and enhance our scientific capabilities, tools and partnerships to meet our current and future needs. This strategy identifies three key strategic areas: scientific capability, evidence, and collaboration. For each of these strategic areas, two strategic aims are described.

To implement the strategy effectively, during 2016–17 FSANZ continued work on developing the performance measures in the strategic areas. The focus of activities was to develop models and frameworks to enable the measurement of performance and undertake a baseline assessment. This work will continue for the duration of the strategy, with mid-term and final assessments undertaken in upcoming years. The findings will feed into the development of future strategies.

Capabilities

FSANZ staff have a broad range of scientific expertise including those in the traditional sciences such as toxicology, microbiology and nutrition. The focus of the current Science Strategy is on FSANZ’s capabilities in key fields including: data science; statistics and mathematical modelling; regulatory economics; behavioural and consumer sciences; systematic reviews and meta-analysis; food contact materials and new technologies.

Data management strategy

The implementation of FSANZ’s Data Management Strategy has continued. This strategy aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of FSANZ’s data management practices. FSANZ’s scientific data has been identified and catalogued and a system, fully integrated with the ICT operating environment, is being developed to register existing and all new scientific data commissioned or developed by FSANZ. in the future, where appropriate, FSANZ will be able to transform food data into a structured format so that it can be loaded into a database and be more easily combined with other structured data, allowing for more comprehensive and sophisticated analysis and reporting, and sharing the data more effectively.

FSANZ is actively supporting and implementing the Australian Government Public Data Policy. FSANZ is participating in the Government Open Data Community and is publishing data to the data.gov.au site.

FSANZ fellows

The FSANZ Fellows Program is a network of experts in a range of scientific disciplines who provide valuable advice and contribute to the work of FSANZ. At the end of 2016–17, there were six Fellows based in New Zealand, seven in Australia and one in Finland. During 2016–17, the FSANZ Board appointed one new Fellow for a 3-year term and the term of one FSANZ Fellow expired. A number of Fellows appointments will expire during 2017–18 and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Table 11: FSANZ Fellows 2016–17
FSANZ Fellow Background/Expertise Affiliated Institution
Professor Ken Buckle Food Science, processing and microbiology University of New South Wales
Dr Laurence Eyres Food technology ECG Ltd
Professor Nigel French Molecular epidemiology & risk research Massey University
Professor Stephen Goodall Health economist University of Technology Sydney
Professor Peter Langridge Genomics University of Adelaide
Professor Brian Priestly Health risk assessment Monash University
Professor Seppo Salminen Intestinal micro biota and health, probiotics and prebiotics, health claims University of Turku
Professor Murray Skeaff Nutrition University of Otago
Professor Mark Tamplin Microbiology & food safety University of Tasmania
Professor David Fraser Vitamin D University of Sydney
Associate Professor Winsome Parnell Surveys & infant nutrition University of Otago
Dr Vanessa Jordan Methodologist and epidemiologist University of Auckland
Professor Samir Samman Human nutrition University of Otago
Professor Wendy Umberger Agricultural and food economics University of Adelaide

Australia New Zealand Science Forum

FSANZ’s scientific relationship with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (NZMPI) is primarily through the Australia New Zealand Science Forum (ANZSF). Meetings are held bi-annually to consider and collaborate on food regulatory scientific projects relevant to both agencies, particularly in relation to the development of food standards.

The ANZSF provides an opportunity for structured interactions between the agencies, and enables the sharing of information on key scientific activities. These interactions assist with prioritisation and resource allocation for current projects. During 2016–17, FSANZ and NZMPI held a workshop on emerging food safety issues, and collaborated on current proposals being funded under the NZMPI Food Safety Food Science Program.

Engagement with academic institutions

FSANZ actively engages with academic institutions on science and the provision of evidence in support of our work. FSANZ also runs a student project program that offers students research opportunities relevant to our work, at the undergraduate, honours and masters/postgraduate level. In 2016–17, two students from the University of New South Wales completed projects, with one presenting their research findings to FSANZ staff on-site.

FSANZ continues to liaise with Australian tertiary education institutions by hosting student placements. This year, FSANZ hosted three students from the University of Wollongong. Placements are conducted on-site for a four-to-six-week period, and the student completes a project that contributes to the work of FSANZ.

Regulatory Science Network

FSANZ actively contributed to the Regulatory Science Network (RSN) during the year.

The RSN (established in 2011) is a network of Australian Government agencies responsible for regulating chemicals and biological agents. It aims to forge closer links between agencies and promote common approaches to regulatory science.

International networks

International work on food safety

In November 2016, FSANZ participated in the international meeting New Science for food safety: Supporting food chain transparency for improved health, hosted by the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Participants included International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) members from the Asia Pacific region as well as food safety regulators and food safety scientists from Asia, Europe, Canada and the United States. Participants discussed the implications of new technologies for the detection and response to food safety emergencies and food fraud, and the role for INFOSAN.

During 2016–17 Australian Government coordination processes on providing and receiving international food safety notification were finalised, outlining the responsibilities of FSANZ as the Australian INFOSAN Emergency Contact Point and the Australian Government Department of Health and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as INFOSAN Focal Points. In addition, FSANZ implemented a notification process in early 2017 to relevant country INFOSAN Emergency Contact Points of all food recalls when the affected product either originated from a foreign country or was shipped outside of Australia.

Codex Alimentarius Commission

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) is the international food standards setting body established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO). Codex develops international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice that both protect consumer safety and ensure fair practices in the food trade. In amending the Code, FSANZ routinely considers international food standards where these have been adopted by Codex.

During the year, FSANZ led the Australian delegation to four Codex committees: Food Additives, Food Contaminants, Food Hygiene, and Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses.

In 2016–17, 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

FSANZ is actively engaged in several discipline-specific international liaison groups which include participation by key regulatory ‘sister’ agencies, for example the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA.

These liaison groups discuss issues relating to chemical and microbiological food safety issues, communications, consumer science and economics and typically meet by conference call two times a year.

The liaison groups allow FSANZ to learn about regulatory developments in other countries and also to share information.

APEC forum
FSANZ representative Dr Trevor Webb (second from right) at the 2017 APEC forum in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Relationships in the Asia-Pacific region

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Food Safety Cooperation Forum (APEC FSCF) is a network of food safety agencies from APEC economies. The APEC FSCF continues to be co-chaired by FSANZ (on behalf of Australia) and the People’s Republic of China (General Administration of Quality Supervision, inspection and Quarantine). The APEC FSCF continues to make progress in strengthening food safety systems, capacity building, and enhancing the harmonisation of food standards with international standards across the APEC region.

In May 2017, a high profile APEC suite of food safety events was held in Hanoi, Vietnam. This included the 6th FSCF and separate workshops on the following topics: Export Certification; Wine Regulators Forum; Modernisation of Food Safety Control Systems; Capacity Building, and; Harmonisation of Pesticide Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs). The events were considered very successful and consensus was reached on an APEC FSCF Statement.

FSANZ continued its leadership on advancing regulatory convergence on pesticide MRLs through the APEC FSCF. This work was funded by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Economic Diplomacy Fund (EDF) program and included the completion of a third FSANZ-led expert workshop in Canberra to facilitate the adoption by economies of the new APEC Guideline on import MRLs for Pesticides.

International visitors

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

Table 12: Key international delegations 2016–17
Date Country/organisation visiting Topics
21 September 2016 Peoples Republic of China: Delegation meeting between FSANZ and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture
  • Overview of the food safety regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand
  • Chapter 2 – Commodity Standards
  • FSANZ system and process applied to food standards development
19 September 2016 Malaysia: Ministry of Health Malaysia, Food Safety and Quality Division
  • Overview of the food safety regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand
  • Making a food standard in Australia and New Zealand
  • An introduction to the implementation Subcommittee for Food Regulation
  • Coordinating recalls and national food incidents
  • Priority areas for collaboration
  • Malaysian Delegation Presentation
1 February 2017 Bangladesh Honourable Minister for Food and associates
  • Overview of the food safety regulatory system in Australia and New Zealand
  • Presentation on Current Food Control System in Bangladesh Future Challenges
  • FSANZ’s role in the food standard development process
  • Coordinating recalls and national food incidents

Enabler 3: People

Staff forum

FSANZ has a staff forum, which facilitates the exchange of information between FSANZ staff and the Executive on workplace issues. The forum is made up of representatives of each section of the agency and meets monthly. The Forum Chair also reports to the Executive each month to provide feedback.

In 2016–17 the Forum discussed a range of issues of importance to FSANZ employees. Upgrades to furniture in Boeing House, accommodation and workplace behaviour all featured in discussions. The Forum was also consulted on policies on recruitment, car parking and travel.

Sustainable development

FSANZ’s Canberra office is rated 4.5 stars on the National Australian Built Environment System. As part of the operations of our ‘Green’ lease, FSANZ monitors building temperatures and works closely with the building owners to ensure the efficiency of the Australian and New Zealand office air conditioning. This limits the overuse of energy during working hours and ensures any issues are identified early and addressed quickly. FSANZ has contracted to source 10 per cent of energy to the Canberra office from renewable sources.

As part of FSANZ’s 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 lights in unused rooms and turn off computers and monitors when they leave for the night
  • providing recycling bins in all kitchens
  • recycling decommissioned computers, tablets and phones.

Training

FSANZ supported staff in a range of professional development activities during 2016–17. FSANZ spent almost $235,000 on staff development during the financial year.

FSANZ employment profile

Tables 13–18 provide a summary of FSANZ’s 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. Data for FSANZ and the APS are as 30 June for the year in question. Employee numbers stabilised in 2016–17. The use of non-ongoing employees increased during the year in order to manage workloads and deliver against priority work (see Table 13).

Table 13: Total employees
  FSANZ 2015–16 APS Dec 2016 FSANZ 2016–17
Total employees 114 153,421 114
Total employees (ongoing) 104 136,898 100
Total employees (non-ongoing) 10 16,523 14
New Zealand-based employees 14 n/a 12
Table 14: Stability and mobility
  FSANZ 2015–16 APS Dec 2016 FSANZ 2016–17
New starters – ongoing (% employees ongoing) 4 (3.8%) 11,192 (8%) 8 (8%)
New starters – non-ongoing 418 n/a 13
Separations ongoing 6 9,883 9
Retention rate (% ongoing employees) 94% 93% 91%
Table 15: Workforce diversity
  APS Dec 2016 FSANZ 2016–17
Indigenous Australian employees 3% 0.0%
Employees with disability 4% 2.6% (3 people)
NESB1 (employees in Australia) 5% 6% (7 people)
Women 59% 66% (75 people)
Part-time employees (ongoing) 15% 19% (22 people)

FSANZ recruited a number of staff in 2016–17 to meet skill needs as a result of staff separations. The retention rate decreased in 2016–17, with the majority of separations occurring because of employees moving to new roles (see Table 14).

FSANZ has a specialised workforce and does not target specific diversity groups in its recruitment practices. Where employees elect to disclose their diversity status, FSANZ ensures that appropriate support is put in place. FSANZ has a slightly higher representation of staff from non-English speaking backgrounds in the workforce than the APS average. FSANZ 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—almost two thirds of our employees are women.

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

Table 16: Workforce experience
  FSANZ 2015–16 APS Dec 2016 FSANZ 2016–17
Average length of service in APS (ongoing) 13 years 11 years 13 years
Table 17: Age structure
  APS Dec 2016 FSANZ 2016–17
Less than 30 13% 7% (8 people)
30 to 39 27% 20% (23 people)
40 to 49 28% 25% (28 people)
50 to 59 25% 34% (39 people)
Over 60 7% 14% (16 people)
Table 18: Classification structure
  FSANZ 2015–16 APS Dec 2016 FSANZ 2016–17
APS levels 39% (44 people) 74% 41% (46 people)
EL levels 57% (65 people) 24% 55% (63 people)
SES 4% (5 people) 2% 4% (5 people)

FSANZ has a workforce with relatively more experience than the average for the APS overall. The requirement for specialised employees means that employees often spend a large part of their working careers as FSANZ employees (see Table 16).

The proportion of FSANZ employees who are over 50 years has increased from 38 per cent of all employees to 48 per cent of employees in 2016–17. Those under 40 years are currently only 27 per cent of employees, indicating a significant aging of the workforce over the year. 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 FSANZ’s work, involving large numbers of executive level employees with specialist scientific and technical skills, the proportion of APS level employees (41 per cent) is significantly less than the APS average of 74 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

FSANZ’s Health and Safety Committee is made up of representatives of management, the facilities team, work health and safety representatives, first-aid officers and workplace harassment contact officers.

During the year, the committee considered a range of issues including:

  • purchasing a defibrillator in the NZ office
  • reinvigorating the harassment contact officer network
  • the follow-up from the hazard identification inspection undertaken by the work health and safety representatives
  • in house training in undertaking work station assessments.

FSANZ supports activities that aim to contribute to the wellness of staff including subsidising a lunchtime yoga class once a week.

In 2017 FSANZ refurbished staff work stations providing standing workstations for the majority of staff. Workstation assessments were undertaken for 25 employees during 2016–17. We also continued our practice of providing onsite flu vaccinations.

Flexible working arrangements are encouraged to support work-life balance. FSANZ has five employees with formal working from home agreements.

Workplace bullying and harassment

Trained harassment contact officers continued to assist employees who feel they may have been bullied and harassed. In 2016–17 no formal complaints were made under the bullying and harassment guidelines. FSANZ commenced a review of its bullying and harassment guidelines in 2016–17 with the Staff Forum having a number of discussions about appropriate workplace behaviour.

Workplace diversity and disability

FSANZ’s Diversity Framework is an important part of the Diversity Plan component of our People Strategy. The framework includes our reconciliation action plan and disability. FSANZ raises awareness of the importance of considering diversity issues through recruitment processes by improving internal communication including at staff meetings. FSANZ only has a few employees who identify as being from a diverse background, as defined by the Australian Public Service Commission. Raising awareness is the first step in addressing this under-representation.

Rewards and recognition

In 2016–17 FSANZ honoured three staff members for their contribution to the work of the agency.

Chair’s Annual Development Award

The Chair’s Annual Development Award was awarded to Sandra Rissa for her commitment to providing a high level of service to the FSANZ Board and her organisational leadership demonstrated through her role as chair of the Staff Forum.

Waitangi Day Award

The Waitangi Day Award was awarded to Tracey Cridge for her highly valued technical knowledge and expertise and commitment to service and excellence.

Australia Day Medallion

Owen Walsh - Australia Day Medallion
Former CEO Steve McCutcheon presents
General Counsel Owen Walsh with the
Australia Day medallion.

The Australia Day Medallion was awarded to Owen Walsh for his commitment to high quality legal advice and consistent attention to the quality of FSANZ work.

Senior management

In 2016–17 long-serving FSANZ CEO Steve McCutcheon departed. Mark Booth started as CEO in March 2017. This financial year has seen some significant changes in the organisation including at the Board level, which is noted in the CEO’s introduction on page viii.

FSANZ has also undergone further structural change as it adapts to staffing changes and strategic challenges. FSANZ now has five executive officers. In 2016–17 our Executive team comprised:

Steve McCutcheon (1 July 2016 to 31 January 2017) and Mark Booth (6 March 2017 to present)

The CEO is responsible to the FSANZ Board for the efficient administration of the agency and, in conjunction with the Board, for the corporate and strategic directions of FSANZ. The CEO is also an ex officio member of the Board.

Glen Neal

General Manager Food Standards

Mr Neal is responsible for the risk management functions associated with developing food standards that address labelling and information matters, food contaminants, food composition, food additives, special purpose foods and foods requiring pre-approval, such as novel foods. Mr Neal is the senior FSANZ representative in New Zealand and is responsible for managing relationships with consumers, industry, government and other stakeholders. He also has executive responsibility for finance.

Peter May

General Manager Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs

Mr May is responsible for corporate governance, oversight of the Office of General Counsel (an independent provider of internal legal advice), maintaining the Code, food safety and primary production and processing standards, food recall and response coordination, and parliamentary and ministerial liaison. He also has executive oversight of communication and stakeholder engagement.

Dr Scott Crerar

General Manager Risk and Regulatory Assessment

Dr Crerar has executive responsibility for the agency’s risk assessment activities involving microbiological, chemical and nutritional analysis. Dr Crerar is also responsible for the agency’s behavioural and regulatory analysis work.

Dr Trevor Webb

General Manager Food Information, Science and Technology

Dr Webb has executive responsibility for FSANZ’s international relations, food composition and consumption studies and dietary modelling, maximum residue limits, nanotechnology and packaging. Dr Webb also has oversight of the agency’s ICT functions.

Enabler 4: Communication—a broad communication capability


Case study

Allergen labelling saves lives - FSANZ poster
FSANZ’s mandatory allergen labelling campaign poster

In May 2017 FSANZ ran a campaign to remind food businesses about the requirement for mandatory allergen labelling in the Food Standard Code. The campaign involved media outreach; information in FSANZ publications and social media posts, as well the development of a poster and video. The media release was picked up by a number of food industry publications. FSANZ’s publications and social media reached an audience of some 40,000 people, while our media outreach in print and online reached and estimated audience of 750,000.

Food safety hub

FSANZ has consolidated our food safety web pages into a ‘food safety hub’, providing a single access point from the website’s home page. The hub has four main areas:

  • standards, guides and other information— outlining regulatory requirements related to food safety and links to useful guides and fact sheets
  • food recalls, incidents and consumer advice—explaining what’s involved in recalling food as well as information for the public on past food incidents and specific food safety topics
  • food safety culture—explaining what food safety culture is, why it’s important and how food businesses and regulators can work together to improve it
  • featured content—highlighting new publications, videos, key messages, etc.

The hub’s content will continue to evolve over the coming months, particularly in the area of food safety culture.

Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder engagement is a vital part of FSANZ’s work. Engagement takes many forms, informally—through direct contact with officers and through our social media networks, and formally through our committees. FSANZ has several committees established to maintain engagement with consumer, public health, government and industry stakeholders. These committees include the Consumer and Public Health Dialogue and the Retailers and Manufacturers Liaison Committee. FSANZ is also involved in international networks and committees. Details about these networks and committees as well as other stakeholder engagement activities are detailed below.

In 2016–17 FSANZ fielded more than 1700 enquiries through the code enquiries email box and more than 800 through the information email address. Staff from across the agency also logged responses to over 300 more complex enquiries.

Allergen Collaboration

FSANZ established the Allergen Collaboration to improve (through non-regulatory means) how food allergen risks are managed and to help consumers with a food allergy make safer food choices. The Allergen Collaboration provides key stakeholders with an opportunity to share and exchange information and to work collaboratively on issues relating to food allergen management. Now in its sixth year, the Allergen Collaboration is maintaining three areas of focus:

  • targeted communication to the food service sector
  • targeted stakeholder communication about allergen thresholds relating to precautionary allergen labelling for cross contamination
  • food importer education relating to regulatory obligations for food allergen labelling.

The Allergen Collaboration has also maintained an Allergen Portal website for the last five years, which provides different sectors in the community with links to best practice food allergen resources and key messages to promote in the different sectors. The Allergen Collaboration is reviewing the portal content to refresh the currency and relevance of the information it provides.

In November 2016, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on the Food Regulation (the Forum) asked FSANZ to work through the Allergen Collaboration to promote the uptake of voluntary allergen labelling initiatives and to provide a report to them in late 2017. The Allergen Collaboration is working on this request and expects to collect information on the current use of voluntary initiatives to determine strategies to increase their uptake.

Social media

FSANZ’s social media audience continues to grow. Towards the end of the financial year FSANZ had more than 24,000 Facebook followers and about 5000 Twitter followers. Engagement with this audience also continues to grow. While subject matter is often very serious FSANZ also used humour to drive engagement and interactions with followers, to good effect. Recalls continue to attract a lot of engagement and this year was no different. This level of engagement also provides a window of opportunity to educate and inform our audience (particularly consumers) about FSANZ’s role in the regulatory system and about food safety.

Website

The FSANZ website is a key communication platform and continues to attract about 1 million visitors a year. Analytics reveal our tools are amongst the most popular content along with information about food labelling and safety. In 2016 FSANZ conducted user testing and stakeholder workshops to help identify if there are problems with the existing website. This information as well as information from a stakeholder survey will be used to develop possible design changes, which will then be tested to meet the Digital Transformation Agency’s Digital Service Standard.

Anniversary events

In August 2016, FSANZ marked 25 years of setting national food standards and held a scientific symposium bringing together more than 260 attendees—from consumer, industry, public health and government sectors—to discuss food safety and public health issues. Professor Lynne Daniels, the interim FSANZ Board Chair, spoke about FSANZ’s growth over the past 25 years. On the first day, symposium attendees heard government perspectives on FSANZ’s value proposition by Dr Wendy Southern PSM (Deputy Secretary, Australian Government Department of Health) and Dr Barbara Wilson (CEO, Safe Food Production Queensland). industry, consumer and public health perspectives were outlined by Mr Gary Dawson (CEO, Australian Food and Grocery Council), Ms Katherine Rich (CEO, New Zealand Food and Grocery Council), Mr Alan Kirkland (CEO, CHOiCE) and Professor Amanda Lee (Chair, Consumer and Public Health Dialogue). The next day of the symposium looked towards the future and the new frontiers in managing food safety and public health as well as the challenges and opportunities in the digital age.

Collaboration between Australia and New Zealand in food standards setting was also celebrated with a scientific symposium to celebrate 20 years of Australia New Zealand Food Treaty in Wellington, New Zealand. The symposium was attended by more than 100 guests. The symposium was opened by New Zealand Minister for Food Safety, Jo Goodhew, who noted the incredibly close relationship Australia has with New Zealand. Minister Goodhew went on to tell attendees Australia is New Zealand’s most important trading partner and a natural partner on foreign and trade policy, and that this was set to continue in a post-Brexit world. This message was echoed by all guests.

Information communication technology

Over the past year FSANZ has revolutionised our cybersecurity with artificial intelligence- based advanced threat protection that will predict and prevent execution of advanced threats and malware at the endpoint.

FSANZ upgraded the external SharePoint infrastructure and most internal applications and deployed new environments for a food composition database (Silo) to meet development requirements. Stabilisation of some of these major applications has been completed allowing for greater stability and business continuity.

FSANZ also upgraded to the latest exchange version to improve reliability, performance and user experience and worked towards digital transition with continued electronic forms creation.

Canberra–Wellington external collaboration

Improved system performance and stability has continued to be a key focus for New Zealand staff and remote users. FSANZ has continued to have successful cross-Tasman collaboration.

ICT disaster recovery

FSANZ has enhanced the capacity of our disaster recovery site to enable greater utilisation of the infrastructure and provide future private cloud business services.

Information and records management

FSANZ again showed significant improvement in the 2016 Check-Up Digital survey of digital information management capability. The agency was rated in the top third of agencies and sixth amongst regulatory agencies in digital maturity. The annual online survey was developed by the National Archives of Australia to help Australian Government agencies gauge their digital information management maturity and set clear direction for improved digital practices.

FSANZ has also established an information governance committee and has implemented an information Governance Framework and Digital Strategy.

This year FSANZ has continued to work on data management as part of implementing our Data Strategy and we are currently building a data registry to identify and store our key scientific data.

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 Australian Government Departments. Most of our contact with the office of Assistant Minister David Gillespie relates to providing information for input to briefs or providing public affairs support.

Performance

Ministerial correspondence

FSANZ provides input to correspondence handled by the Assistant 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 2016–17 correspondence included irradiated foods, genetically modified foods and techniques, nanoparticles in food, low-THC hemp seed, food labelling and maximum residue limits.

Table 19: Ministerial correspondence
  Completed on time 1–2 days late 3–7 days late 8–14 days late >14 days late TOTAL for action For info/no further action
2016–17 38 0 0 0 0 18 20
100% 0% 0% 0% 0%    
2015–16 28 0 0 0 0 28 27
100% 0% 0% 0% 0%    
2014–15 25 0 0 0 0 25 5
100% 0% 0% 0% 0%    
Table 20: Ministerial submissions
  Sent Returned
2016–17 4 2
2015–16 14 14
2014–15 22 17
Table 21: Briefing note requests
  Sent Returned
2016–17 14 17
2015–16 14 17
2014–15 14 17
Table 22: Parliamentary questions on notice
  Sent Returned Late
2016–17 0 0 0
2015–16 0 0 0
2014–15 2 0 0

Matters raised in the four ministerial submissions related to the Annual Report, cost recovery and FSANZ travel approval (see Table 20). 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 Australian Government Department of Health or other departments. Issues included Board meeting outcomes, irradiation of berries, maximum residue limits, nanoparticles, cost recovery, low-THC hemp seed and new breeding techniques (see Table 21).

Senate Estimates

Senior staff were required to appear before Senate Estimates on two occasions during 2016–17 (October 2016 and March 2017).

Issues raised during the hearings related to nanotechnology, nanoparticles in food, novel foods and food additives, regulation of infant milk formula, GM techniques and FSANZ’s expert panel on GM.

FSANZ answered 40 questions on notice specifically addressed to FSANZ.

FSANZ also provided input into 12 answers to questions on notice being managed by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Question time briefings

Questions without notice are asked of ministers in Question Time in the Parliament and 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 not required to prepare any QTBs in 2016–17.

Parliamentary enquiries

Nil

Notice of motion

Nil

FSANZ Board

FSANZ is governed by a 12-member Board whose members are drawn from Australia and New Zealand. Members of the Board have different areas of expertise covering public health, food science, medical science, consumer policy, primary industry, the National Health and Medical Research Commission, food industry and government.

Eight Australian members are appointed by the Australian Minister with responsibility for FSANZ following consultation with the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) and consideration by cabinet. The three New Zealand members are nominated by the New Zealand Government and appointed by the Australian Minister. The CEO is a member ex officio.

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

A new Board chair, Ms Robyn Kruk AM was appointed in November 2016. Three Board members, Ms Jenni Mack, Mr Tony Nowell and Ms Lyn Bentley completed their terms on 30 June 2017.

The Board recognises the importance of applying sound governance principles and practices. It has adopted a Board Charter to ensure that both FSANZ and the Board meet 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 in 2016–17. Outcomes of FSANZ Board meetings are published on the website.

Ethical standards

The Board Charter includes guidelines for dealing with directors’ conflicts of interest and material personal interests 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

FSANZ provides a formal induction for new Board members, including a meeting with the Board Chair, FSANZ CEO and Executive team. Newly appointed Board members are provided with an induction manual (which includes the Board Charter, Corporate Plan, Business plan and other relevant information).

FSANZ also conducts an annual training session for its Board members, which generally 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 compared with management.

Board performance

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

Along with the biennial review of the performance of the Board, an evaluation of meetings is undertaken by two Board members at alternate meetings. The evaluation is undertaken using an evaluation proforma which is provided to the Chair who discusses the evaluation with the CEO and other Board members as appropriate.

Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee (FARMC)

FARMC consists of non-executive Board directors, and supports the Board’s oversight responsibilities relating to the financial and business affairs of FSANZ, the preparation and integrity of FSANZ’s financial accounts and statements, internal controls, policies and procedures used to identify and manage business risks, insurance activities, compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and compliance policies.

During 2016–17, 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. The committee 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 FSANZ’s corporate risk assessment. Risk assessments inform FARMC’s risk monitoring activities and the Strategic internal Audit Plan. Internal audits considered by FARMC in 2016–17 related to the management of the transition to the PGPA Act, review of workplace diversity and disability, and review of ICT procurement.

FARMC 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, an internal auditor, the FSANZ Board Chair, the FSANZ CEO and Finance Manager.

Procurement

As a Commonwealth corporate entity, FSANZ’s purchasing and procurement policies and practices are consistent with:

  • all relevant Commonwealth legislation
  • the Australian Government financial framework
  • the Chief Executive instructions and relevant FSANZ policies.

Advertising and market research

FSANZ did not spend any money on advertising, polling, advertising campaigns, direct mail expenditure or market research in 2016–17 (as defined by section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 for annual reports).

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 four members (a chair, plus three). The General Manager Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs 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.

Business planning and management

Consultants, competitive tendering and contractors

We spent $739,985 on consultants and contractors during the year on services and products costing more than $10,000 (see Appendix 7 for details).

Corporate planning

The PGPA Act requires all agencies to prepare a corporate plan.

In 2014–15, the FSANZ Board conducted a review of the strategic environment and identified strategic themes for future FSANZ operations. This work led to the development of the Corporate Plan 2015–19.

FSANZ’s Risk Management Framework and Governance Framework were revised to form a suite of documents aligned with the Corporate Plan and the Portfolio Budget Statements.

Fraud control plan

The FSANZ fraud control plan outlines the processes and procedures FSANZ undertakes to limit fraud risk in the agency. Reports on fraud risk mitigation are regularly provided to the Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee to ensure that the current risk management activities, such as separation of duties and the credit card purchasing guidelines, are effective in addressing fraud risk. There were no cases of fraud reported in FSANZ in 2016–17.

Proposed amendments to the FSANZ Regulations, including cost recovery arrangements

Fees are payable for assessing applications where the development or variation of a standard would confer an exclusive capturable commercial benefit on an applicant. An applicant may also elect to pay a fee to expedite the commencement of the consideration of an application.

FSANZ has been working on updated hourly charges applied for cost recovery and public consultation in a draft Cost Recovery implementation Statement. This work was put on hold until after the 2016 Federal Election.

Information on previous reviews, including submissions, is available on the FSANZ website

Picture of FSANZ staff with Japanese delegates
FSANZ met with Japanese delegates as part of their requlatory analysis research tour of Austalia in 2017

APEC forum 2017
FSANZ representatives attend the 2017 APEC forum in Hanoi, Vietnam

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