Stakeholder engagement is vital to the work of FSANZ.
Every day we interact with people from across the community in formal and informal settings. These interactions help to inform our work and contribute to the rigour of our processes.
Our legislation—the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991—requires that we consult on standards development through a call for submissions process. This process is open to everyone in the community including consumers, public health professionals, industry and government representatives. We also engage with people on a range of other activities, including our surveillance and monitoring activities and food safety matters (including recalls and incidents).
FSANZ actively seeks out other ways to engage with people; whether through channels like social media or through formal meetings with stakeholder group representatives. We also hold meetings with a wide range of stakeholders on the development of complex standards, for example the committees we establish to help us progress primary production and processing standards.
We take seriously our responsibility to engage with (and listen to) the Australian and New Zealand communities, as we do our responsibility to let people know the boundaries of our work—that is, what we can and can’t do.
FSANZ is an independent agency, committed to reaching as broad an audience as possible, and being transparent in all our work and our decisions. It is hoped this strategy will assist us in that commitment and further improve our stakeholder engagement.
1. Clear purpose, scope and outcome
Engagement processes should be undertaken with a clear purpose and scope. The constraints and conditions of the engagement processes should be communicated to stakeholders. Stakeholders should be aware of how a contribution can affect an outcome.
FSANZ outlines in its communication, the reasons for engaging with stakeholders and the scope of the relevant project. A statement about the weight of evidence is provided both in website material and in publications.
2. Appropriateness and structure
Engagement processes should be structured and appropriately designed for each issue being considered, mindful of practical realities. Engagement opportunities should be offered early in the consideration of an issue. Information shared among stakeholders should be recorded and considered before making a decision. The appropriate level of engagement should be clearly articulated for all processes.
For each activity it undertakes, FSANZ conducts an analysis early in the process to identify key stakeholders; determine how engagement processes should be structured and the extent of the consultation required. For example, communication and consultation plans are prepared for applications and proposals to change the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. All submissions on applications and proposals are published (unless they are deemed confidential) and all add to the rigour of our assessment processes. How we plan to consult on our work is clearly outlined in our documentation. Broader consultation processes and how people can provide submissions are detailed on our website.
3. Open communication and collaboration
Engagement processes should foster dialogue that is open and genuine. Engagement processes should be based on communication that is adaptable and can occur through multiple channels.
FSANZ undertakes stakeholder engagement using a wide range of methods—both formal and informal. We actively seek new ways to engage with all stakeholders such as moving to the use of social media.
4. Inclusiveness and balance
Engagement opportunities and processes should enable fair and equitable participation and should take into account the impacts and benefits of decisions on stakeholders. Engagement processes should include stakeholders from both Australia and New Zealand.
Anyone can provide comments to FSANZ about applications and proposals. In our processes, we seek contributions from a wide range of stakeholders from across the community. An analysis of the effects of our work on different sectors in the community is a standard part of our processes. Both Australian and New Zealand stakeholders are considered in our stakeholder engagement strategies.
5. Commitment, accountability and transparency
All stakeholders in the joint food regulation system should commit to improving the quality of engagement. Stakeholders should provide each other with timely, constructive and evidence-based information and be accepting of differing positions. Stakeholders should be mindful to maintain confidentiality of information, where appropriate. Processes and decisions should be transparent.
FSANZ is committed to improving the quality of its engagement. We are guided by (but not limited to) statutory requirements set out in our legislation. We seek to make all our decisions transparent, publishing our decisions and the information that guides these decisions.
What we do
Our main role is to develop and administer the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code which includes:
- assessing applications to change the Code
- assessing proposals developed by FSANZ to change the Code.
- coordinate national food surveillance and food recalls
- support the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in its duty to inspect imported foods.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure Australia and New Zealand have a safe food supply and well-informed consumers.
What we don’t do
One of the challenges facing FSANZ in managing its stakeholder engagement is explaining the boundaries of our work.
In brief, FSANZ doesn’t:
- decide over-arching food policy
- enforce the Code
- provide advice on food compliance issues
- regulate therapeutic goods i.e. medicines and complementary medicines
- regulate industrial chemicals
- inspect and sample imported food.
What we engage on
FSANZ engages with stakeholders on all its work. Sometimes this consultation is broad while on other occasions it is targeted to select groups. Below is a list of activities we engage on.
- Applications to change the Food Standards Code
- Proposals to change the Food Standards Code
- Monitoring activities e.g. surveys of pesticide residues or chemicals in food
- Food recalls
- National food incidents
- Imported food matters
- International food safety matters
- Emerging issues and issues of consumer concern.
How do we engage
Some of FSANZ’s engagement processes are established in our legislation. FSANZ has also established formal engagement processes for engaging with industry, public health and consumer bodies and with other government agencies, academia and international bodies.
FSANZ is required by law to engage on the development of new standards. We do this though a call for submissions on applications and proposals and this process is notified through our website, media releases, social media and notification emails.
FSANZ has established a number of formal meetings to engage with key stakeholder groups. These are listed below.
- Consumers and public health professionals—Consumer and Public Health Dialogue
- Industry—Retailers and Manufacturers Liaison Committee
- State, territory, Federal Government and New Zealand Government agencies—Jurisdictional Forum
- Federal Government agencies—regular meetings and as required
- Meetings with international bodies—regular meetings and as required
- Industry, consumers and government agencies—Standards development committees
FSANZ’s informal engagement includes regular one-on-one interaction with all stakeholders through direct contact or contact through our website and social media, emails and phone calls. We also attend professional conferences and industry visits.
Measuring our success in stakeholder engagement
In order to measure our success we will:
- conduct stakeholder surveys
- monitor and measure the number and quality of our interactions; with one focus being growing our consumer audience via social media.
- monitor the number of non-FSANZ related enquiries
- monitor website statistics setting goals to increase the audience of information that helps us realise the priorities set out in this strategy.
How you can get involved
There are a number of ways to engage with FSANZ. You can:
- follow us on Facebook or Twitter
- subscribe to our notifications about standards development and be part of the call for submissions process
- email us through the contact us form on our website.
- write to us at:
PO Box 5423
Kingston ACT 2604
PO Box 10559
The Terrace, Wellington 6143