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Chapter 4 - Key enablers

FSANZ's Corporate Plan 2012–2015 identifies five 'key enablers' (capabilities) that will operate across the agency to assist staff to deliver the strategic imperatives:

  • 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

Highlights 2012–13

  • Reviewed, amended and republished The Analysis of Food-Related Health Risks as Risk Analysis in Food Regulation.
  • Addressed 15 recommendations from a peer review of the agency's risk assessment processes by Dr Angelika Tritscher of the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Completed the first phase of the redevelopment of our dietary modelling and food composition data systems (Harvest).
  • Completed the nutrient database for foods consumed during the 2011–13 Australian Health Survey (with the Australian Bureau of Statistics).
  • Undertook a re-estimation of the burden of foodborne illness in Australia (with the New South Wales Food Authority and the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing).
  • Employed 129 staff members, of whom 11 were located in New Zealand and 69 per cent were female.
  • Developed a People Strategy and associated plans to integrate our approaches and goals aimed at recruiting, developing, motivating and retaining a fit-for-purpose workforce.
  • Developed strategies, processes and activities aimed at increasing the innovation culture of the agency.
  • Continued to acknowledge the contribution of staff members to the work of the agency through a formal rewards and recognition scheme.


FSANZ Science Strategy

The FSANZ Science Strategy 2010–15 identifies seven key strategic areas for us to focus on, which enable us to further enhance our scientific capability to meet future food regulatory needs and emerging challenges. Underpinning the science strategy are annual implementation plans that specify objectives and deliverables to achieve for each of the strategic areas.

During the year, we reviewed our progress against the Science Strategy 2012 Implementation Plan, developed the Science Strategy 2013 Implementation Plan and began implementing a number of the activities. Deliverables achieved in 2012–13 included items described in this section of the report.

Risk Analysis in Food Regulation

We published The Analysis of Food-Related Health Risks in 2008 and made it available on our website. The publication outlines the broad approach we use to analyse health risk associated with food. It outlines how we assess, manage and communicate these risks through a structured risk analysis process incorporating scientific data, and taking into consideration economic, social and policy factors as part of our role in developing food regulatory measures.

We have completely reviewed this document and re-titled it Risk Analysis in Food Regulation.

Chapters dealing with risk assessment and risk management have been substantially revised. Sections on nutritional risk analysis, regulatory analysis and the use of behavioural and social science inputs have all been strengthened. New material dealing with variability and uncertainty in food risk assessments has been included, as well as a new figure that depicts the relative weighting that FSANZ may give to different sources of evidence and a new section addressing FSANZ's risk appetite.

Peer review of risk assessment process

In 2012, Dr Angelika Tritscher, who at the time was the World Health Organization's Coordinator, Risk Assessment and Management, Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses, conducted an external peer review of FSANZ's risk assessment processes; she provided her final review report to FSANZ this year.

The overall findings of the review were positive. The report notes that FSANZ follows a clear and structured process for its risk assessments and interactions with risk managers that is consistent with international recommendations. No overall gaps or faults were identified in our risk assessment practices; however, 15 specific recommendations were provided for continuous improvement.

We have considered all 15 recommendations and also identified three of these recommendations to address as a higher priority in 2013–14. We have published the final review report and our response to each of the recommendations of the review on our website.

Harvest database and modelling tool

In 2012–13, we completed the first phase of the redevelopment of our dietary modelling and food composition data systems—a major achievement in FSANZ's continuing effort to provide the best data possible to underpin our risk assessments. The new system, Harvest, will completely replace two existing systems, adding new features, improving reliability and security and building better ways to communicate the results of our dietary exposure assessments.

Harvest has already delivered improved and secure storage for all our data, and enhanced analysis and reporting capabilities for the food and nutrient data from the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Harvest is also providing a collaborative workspace that puts into practice a more agile and interactive way of undertaking data-based risk analysis.

Food composition and consumption data

New food consumption data

Comprehensive and current food consumption data are essential for carrying out dietary exposure assessments. In 2012–13, we prepared new food consumption data for transfer to, and use in, our new Harvest database system for two important populations—Australian infants under two years of age and New Zealand adults.

Australian Health Survey

We continued to work with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) under a three-and-a-half-year contract to prepare the nutrient database for the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey component of the 2011–13 Australian Health Survey (AHS). This brings to an end this large-scale project for the general population 'wave' of the AHS.

The primary focus of work this year was the completion of the nutrient database for foods consumed during this survey. Each food requires data for 45 different nutrients. We also produced a portion-size database containing more than 16,000 measures for the 6,000 foods and beverages in our survey nutrient database. These datasets are undergoing final validation to ensure that the values are as accurate as possible.

With the assistance of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, we have also developed a dietary supplement nutrient database, which matches supplements reported as consumed during the survey to a nutrient profile. These data will be used by the ABS to generate population nutrient intakes from food and supplements.

Another component of the AHS is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, which commenced in early 2012–13. We are currently processing the data collected from this wave in the same way as for the general wave of the AHS.

Microbiological capabilities

Agents of Foodborne Illness—a Technical Series on Pathogens Associated with Foodborne Illness (2nd edition)

FSANZ updated its technical series title Agents of Foodborne Illness, with the addition of six new chapters. The series aims to provide stakeholders with an easily accessible resource to find summary information on pathogens associated with foodborne illness. The scope has now been expanded to include parasites and infectious prion particles. It is available on the FSANZ website.9

Re-estimating the burden of foodborne illness in Australia

We have partnered with the New South Wales Food Authority and the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and have funded a two-year project by the Australian National University's National Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health to re-estimate the burden of foodborne illness in Australia. The project uses contemporary data for foodborne disease and advances in modelling approaches.

Due for finalisation in late 2013, the report will include estimates for the number of cases of illness and common sequelae (long-term conditions) acquired in Australia from contaminated food, as well as the number of hospitalisations and deaths. This information will be used by FSANZ and other stakeholders to illustrate the significant burden of foodborne illness in Australia, and to assist with future projects to estimate the associated costs to the community.

Behavioural and regulatory analysis

In 2012–13, FSANZ integrated its behavioural and economic analytical capacities. The merger occurred at a time of growing interest in alternative approaches to understanding consumer behaviour, particularly behavioural economics. FSANZ is now well placed to incorporate new regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to food safety.

Our Social Sciences Expert Advisory Group was reconvened during the year as the Social Sciences and Economics Advisory Group, with the addition of three economics academics. Members of the group are listed in Appendix 4.

We finalised the analysis of two major population surveys on consumers' knowledge, attitudes and behaviours associated with sports food products and fortified foods—work that will inform future standards developments. In addition, we began a number of literature reviews for evidence to support our technical advice to the Australian Government response to Labelling Logic.

Improving capabilities

We completed the first draft of a new methodology for costing illnesses caused by a number of different pathogens (see above). The model costs both actual outbreaks and scenario estimates of the number of illnesses in a given time period. This approach allows cost estimates to be made much earlier in the standards development process.

We also successfully negotiated a 'carve-out' from the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) for changes to the Code allowing the voluntary addition of nutritive substances to foods and the use of optional methods of analysis. A 'carve-out' is a standing exemption from the need to contact the OBPR for its advice on whether the preparation of a regulation impact statement is required.

International collaboration and expertise

In partnership with the Social Sciences Unit of the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency, FSANZ convened a session on Food Choices at the 8th International Conference of Social Science Methodology. The 16 papers presented at the conference covered a range of approaches to data collection, issues with self-reporting in traditional surveys and the role of new technology in collecting more accurate behavioural data.

Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States work together on many food regulatory matters, including regulatory economic and social sciences. FSANZ plays a key role in the operation of these two groups; during the year, these groups were re-established as International Liaison Groups. This formalised the participation of the United Kingdom in the two groups and opened up the possibility of participation by other food regulatory agencies.


Organisational capability

Staff Forum

The Staff Forum plays a key role as the consultative committee for FSANZ on issues that are of interest or concern to employees. The forum, comprising representatives from each section of FSANZ, as well as several additional key staff, provides feedback directly to the FSANZ Executive.

Two main issues dominated forum discussions in 2012–13. The first involved improving communication between our Wellington and Canberra offices. The second involved the forum reviewing a number of internal policies and guidelines that govern our workplace practices and conditions. Since many of the policies are now directly linked to our Enterprise Agreement, staff input is important, and the forum provided a mechanism through which staff feedback can be provided to senior management.

For example, a new starter induction package, designed to help familiarise new employees with FSANZ, was introduced in 2012. The forum provided significant input and practical suggestions on the scope and content of this package. As a number of FSANZ policies and guidelines are set to be revised or drafted, the Staff Forum will provide this review support into 2013–14.

The forum also continued to support programs that promote the health and well-being of our workforce. For example, following the lead from our Wellington office, the forum arranged for interested staff in the Canberra office to have hearing tests conducted on-site. Participants received individual reports, with recommendations as required, and an aggregate report was provided to agency management.

Workplace Consultative Committee

Formal consultation between unions and FSANZ management occurs through the Workplace Consultative Committee (WCC). The WCC comprises management representatives, representatives/delegates of the unions and other employee representatives by invitation.

Sustainable development

In March 2013, FSANZ signed a new lease on its existing premises in Barton, Australian Capital Territory. The new lease is a green lease. As part of the lead-up to the lease signing, we worked with the building owners to improve the energy efficiency of the building, which is now rated on the National Australian Built Environment Rating System at 4.5 stars.

Our green lease involves regular meetings with the building owners to identify and plan future improvements to the building's energy efficiency. Improvements previously identified in air-conditioning systems and insulation in keys areas of the building continued to reduce energy consumption significantly.

FSANZ employment profile

Tables 11–16 provide a summary of FSANZ's employment profile for the year, compared with that for 2011–12 and with the broader Australian Public Service (APS). APS statistics were obtained from the State of the Service 2011–12 report. Data for FSANZ and the APS are as at 30 June for the year in question.

Table 11: Total employees

Total employees
Total employees (ongoing)
Total employees (non-ongoing)
New Zealand-based employees (ongoing)
New Zealand-based employees (non-ongoing)
APS = Australian Public Service.

Table 12: Stability and mobility

New starters (% employees ongoing)
3.6% (5 people)
2.3% (3 people)
New starters (% employees non-ongoing)
9.4% (13 people)
4.7% (6 people)
Separations (% employees ongoing)
7.7% (9 people)
3.9% (5 people)
Retention rate (% ongoing employees)
92.3% (108 people)
94.8% (109 people)
APS = Australian Public Service.

The number of ongoing new starters fell from 3.6 per cent to 2.3 per cent, reflecting management's response to increased efficiency dividends announced by the Australian Government and the appointment of non-ongoing staff for specific projects, with defined short-term funding.

Canberra continued to experience a tight employment market. However, FSANZ's retention rate of 94.8 per cent demonstrates the high levels of satisfaction reported by employees in the 2012 staff survey. This figure has increased over the past three years.

Table 13: Workforce diversity

Indigenous Australian employees
Employees with disability
(3 people)
(4 people)
NESB1* (employees in Australia)
(10 people)
(6 people)
(90 people)
(89 people)
Non-ongoing employees
(21 people)
(14 people)
Part-time employees (ongoing)
(28 people)
(26 people)
Part-time employees (non-ongoing)
(2 people)
(2 people)
Part-time female employees
(25 people)
(25 people)
Part-time male employees
(5 people)
(2 people)
APS = Australian Public Service; * NESB1 = non-English speaking background first generation.

The number of employees from non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB1) decreased from 7.2 per cent in June 2012 to 4.7 per cent in June 2013. This statistic has steadily decreased over the past three financial years.

FSANZ's female workforce has increased from 65.2 per cent to 69 per cent. This percentage of female employees is higher than the APS level (57.3 per cent) and has remained steady over the past 16 years. It reflects the nature of our work as much as our family-friendly work environment, such as providing access to flexible working arrangements through the FSANZ Enterprise Agreement. This is supported by 19.4 per cent of the female workforce working part-time.

FSANZ does not require staff to disclose whether they are affected by a disability. However, statistics issued by the ABS suggest that 18.5 per cent of the population experience some form of disability.

Table 14: Workforce experience

New starters (% all employees)
(18 people)
(9 people)
Average length of service in APS (ongoing)
11.5 years
8.8 years
11.4 years
Average length of service in APS (non-ongoing)
1.7 years
2.9 years
APS = Australian Public Service.

The percentage of new starters has dramatically decreased from 13 per cent in 2011–12 to 7 per cent in 2012–13. This is a reflection of the overall reduction in staff numbers resulting from tighter budgets.

Table 15: Ageing workforce

Employees >55 yo
(% employees)
(33 people)


(35 people)
Separations of ongoing >55 yo (%)
(2 people)
(2 people)
Separations of non-ongoing >55 yo (%)
1.5%(2 people)
(3 people)
Re-engagement of non-ongoing >55 yo (% of age group)
APS = Australian Public Service; yo = years old.

FSANZ's mature-aged workforce has increased from 23.9 per cent of total employees in 2011–12 to 27.1 per cent in 2012–13. This is higher than the APS figure (14.8 per cent). Separations of employees aged 55 years and over remain slightly higher than the APS average. The median age of FSANZ employees is 47, compared with the median APS age of 42 years.

Table 16: Classification structure


Classification structure
(% employees)

APS levels
(52 people)
(49 people)
EL levels
(80 people)
(74 people)
(6 people)
(6 people)
Staff promoted (ongoing)
(3 people)
(4 people)
APS = Australian Public Service; EL = executive level; SES = senior executive service.

Because of the structure of FSANZ (high levels of specialist scientific staff), the proportion of APS-level employees (38 per cent) is significantly less than the APS average of 66.9 per cent.

Capability development

FSANZ People Strategy

In 2011, the Board's Finance, Administration and Risk Management Committee identified the need to ensure an appropriately skilled workforce as one of FSANZ's enterprise risks that required management. We commissioned an internal audit of workforce planning, which concluded that, although the agency had many elements of workforce planning in place, it did not have an overarching workforce planning strategy.

In 2012, we decided to develop a People Strategy, and associated plans, that would integrate all of our approaches and goals aimed at recruiting, developing, motivating and retaining a fit-for-purpose workforce. Working with external consultants, we studied the tools provided by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) for relevance to FSANZ, consulted with one-third of our staff through focus groups (including the Staff Forum), held an Executive workshop on the proposed strategy and finalised the strategy in early 2013.

Our approach is consistent with the APS Leadership and Core Skills Strategy 2012–13 and the APSC's Integrated Leadership System (ILS). The People Strategy framework is outlined in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Australian Public Service framework for the FSANZ People Strategy

Figure 4: Australian Public Service framework for the FSANZ People Strategy. Top box running across: Capability Framework (based on APS Integrated Leadership System and FSANZ-specific capabilities). Second box running across: People Strategy principles. Four arrows pointing down. First arrow pointing to workforce and succession planning. Second arrow pointing to learning and development (current role and future role). Third arrow pointing to performance development. Fourth arrow pointing to diversity and disability. Last box running across: Implementation plans.  

We have set ourselves a number of goals for 2013–15:

  • to become an 'employer of choice' within the APS
  • to assist everyone to reach their potential
  • to become a learning organisation
  • to motivate and inspire our people.

Consultation with staff is continuing on individual modules (plans) in the strategy: workforce and succession planning; learning and development; performance development; and diversity and disability.


Under the learning and development module of the People Strategy, we adopted the 70:20:10 approach to learning, where most of our effort goes into on-the-job training (e.g. mentoring, coaching, internal transfers, shadowing). In particular, we recognised the need to equip our managers and supervisors with the skills necessary to assist the development of their team members.

We intend to adopt a 'coaching' approach to performance management and career development. To this end, we held intensive in-house training sessions for EL2s, and for EL1s with supervisory responsibilities, on the coaching aspects of leadership. By changing the culture of the agency in this way, we expect to be more effective in our training programs and spend less money on external course providers.


In 2011, FSANZ established an innovation and reform function to coordinate the agency's responses to the reform agenda of the APS. One of these reforms was to increase the level of innovation within departments and agencies—that is, finding better ways of providing products and services to the community.

With the assistance of an Innovation Practice Group—comprising FSANZ staff with an interest in innovation—we have developed an innovation strategy identifying incremental improvements in effectiveness and efficiency as the way forward (as opposed to paradigm shift). Importantly, the strategy recommends process redesign as the means by which FSANZ can develop an innovation culture.

Initiatives in 2012–13 include the development of a nine-step FSANZ innovation process that enables a staff member to progress an idea to implementation, the introduction of 'innovation buddies' to take people through the process, participation in APS Innovation Month, interagency collaboration, an all-staff challenge and the inauguration of an innovation awards scheme.

FSANZ is a member of the Public Sector Innovation Network and an organising committee member for APS Innovation Month.

Employment environment

Enterprise Agreement (EA)

FSANZ has a range of employment arrangements to cover its employees. All Australian-based non-SES employees are covered by the FSANZ EA, which expires in June 2014. The agreement has been in place since November 2011. New Zealand employees are employed under individual contracts consistent with employment law in that country.

To give effect to new conditions in the EA, we developed a number of Enterprise Agreement supporting policies to act as a guide to staff on changed procedures. This involved extensive consultation with all employees, coordinated by the Staff Forum.

Work health and safety (WHS)

FSANZ has developed a WHS policy, compliant with current legislative changes, and staff received on-site training from Comcare officers on manager duties and duty of care for contractors. Additionally, the Board received a separate briefing on WHS obligations and duties of the organisation.

FSANZ's WHS committee comprises three staff members, who have received appropriate training. Committee members visited every office and meeting room in the Canberra office during the year and made a number of recommendations on alternative ways of storage and placement of furniture for consideration by our facilities team and, ultimately, the FSANZ Executive.

Workplace wellness

Activities that support workplace wellness are an accepted part of FSANZ's culture, and are supported by the Executive with resources and encouragement. The agency offers free on-site influenza vaccinations and hearing tests, for example, and has supported lunchtime yoga classes on the Canberra premises for several years.

More and more staff are taking up opportunities for working at home, in the interest of a good work/life balance. We have adopted a progressive attitude to flexible working hours in both Canberra and Wellington.

Workplace bullying and harassment

We maintained the appointment of seven fully trained harassment contact officers during the year. No cases of bullying or harassment were reported. In the latter part of the year, all FSANZ employees were made aware of changes to the APS Values and the introduction of the APS Employment Principles. This awareness raising was the first step in the implementation of amendments to the Public Service Act 1999, which will continue into 2013–14.

Chief Executive Instructions

FSANZ regularly reviews and updates its Chief Executive Instructions. Over the course of the year, FSANZ issued a number of new or updated instructions and policies on subjects such as recruitment, document management, information technology, procurement and security.

We ensure that employees are consulted on changes before new policies are issued. This includes the circulation of all changes to the management team and a consultation process with staff that was coordinated by the Staff Forum.


In 2012–13, FSANZ signed a new lease on its Canberra accommodation, following a review of its ongoing needs and an assessment of availability of office space in various locations. An outcome of the review was a reduction in the floor area of our Canberra office, with significant ongoing cost savings over the length of the lease.

Workplace diversity and disability

FSANZ is committed to APS principles, which value a workplace culture that encourages diversity. People from different backgrounds and culture enrich life at FSANZ. The scope of diversity includes gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and physical ability. This requires everyone in the agency to be aware of diversity issues in the workplace, and to know how to work productively with, and manage, people who may be different from themselves.

Under its new People Strategy, FSANZ:

  • is committed to the equal opportunity employment of staff (consistent with the merit principle) and to a workplace that supports diversity
  • recognises that, at some time in their working lives, most employees will experience a disability or impairment.

We expect to finalise a diversity and disability plan for FSANZ early in 2013–14.

Rewards and recognition

In 2012–13, FSANZ recognised a number of employees through formal awards.

Dr Glenn Stanley received the Chair's Annual Development Award for his influential role in standards development and the handling of a range of issues, including food irradiation, novel foods, contaminants and maximum residue limits (MRL) approvals for agricultural and veterinary chemicals. Dr Stanley has also represented Australia at Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) meetings and bipartite talks on international developments.

An image of the FSANZ Board Chair presenting the Annual Development Award 2012 to Dr Glenn Stanley.  

FSANZ Board Chair presents the Annual Development Award 2012 to Dr Glenn Stanley.

Melanie Perin received the Australia Day Medallion for her professionalism, friendliness, calmness and dedication as the primary client service provider for FSANZ in Canberra. Ms Perin, in her role as the Canberra office receptionist, is generally the first point of contact that the public, visitors and stakeholders have with our agency.

Image of CEO Steve McCutcheon with the Australian Day Medallion recipient, Melanie Perin. 

CEO Steve McCutcheon with the Australia Day Medallion recipient, Melanie Perin.

Image of Maureen Wempe with her award symbolised by the Pikorua Bone Pendant.  

Maureen Wempe with her award symbolised by the Pikorua Bone Pendant.

To coincide with Waitangi Day, Maureen Wempe received an award symbolised by the Pikorua Bone Pendant. The pendant represents the joining of cultures and bonding of friendship. Ms Wempe was recognised for her dual roles of Executive Assistant and Office Manager in the FSANZ Wellington office. In particular, Ms Wempe's involvement with recent major projects was acknowledged.

Recipients of the Chief Executive Officer's Half Yearly Awards in 2012–13 were Romy Doherty, Dr Michael Dack, Betsy Joseph and Luisa Trevisan.

Organisational structure

FSANZ's six-member Executive team includes the Chief Executive Officer, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Executive Manager Food Standards (Canberra) Branch, Executive Manager Risk Assessment Branch, Chief Scientist, General Manager Food Standards (Wellington) Branch, and General Manager Legal and Regulatory Affairs Branch.

FSANZ conducts the risk assessment and risk management functions in different branches to separate these activities.

The Food Standards Branch in Canberra is largely responsible for risk management in relation to food safety and public health and nutrition standards in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code), for coordinating Australia-wide responses to food incidents, and for nutrition and public health activities. The branch is also responsible for corporate operations, consumer and social sciences, regulatory analysis and information and communication technology (ICT). The corresponding branch in Wellington is responsible for developing labelling and compositional standards (including product safety) and for providing information in New Zealand and finance.

Our Risk Assessment Branch carries out the scientific evaluation of risks to human health arising from a range of hazards in food, including dietary modelling. The branch also collects and analyses compositional information, evaluates the effectiveness of food standards and provides strategic support for FSANZ's human resources and innovation functions.

In addition, a Chief Public Health and Nutrition Advisor provides strategic advice to FSANZ on public health and nutrition matters.

Our work is organised in sections, as set out on the organisational chart under 'Corporate overview'.

Senior management

Working under the strategic directions established by the Board, the Executive leads and effectively manages the operations of the agency. The management group, comprising section managers and the Executive, meets weekly. Section managers, and their general managers, are responsible for supervising staff to ensure that they meet milestones, appropriately use budgets and staffing resources, and contribute effectively to our goals and outcomes.

During the year, six senior executive service staff received performance bonuses totalling $114,427, and 23 employees received performance payments totalling $152,078.

At 30 June 2013, our Executive team was made up of the following members:

Steve McCutcheon—Chief Executive Officer

Mr McCutcheon 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. He is also an ex-officio member of the Board.

Melanie Fisher—Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Executive Manager Food Standards (Canberra)

Ms Fisher is responsible for risk management associated with developing food standards that primarily address health and safety matters, including standards for the primary industries, as well as for the agency's social sciences and regulatory impact and analysis activities, and innovation and reform. In addition, she has senior management responsibility for corporate services, including library, human resources and ICT functions.

Dr Marion Healy—Executive Manager Risk Assessment

Dr Healy has executive responsibility for the agency's risk assessment activities involving chemical, microbiological and nutritional analyses and the assessment of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) status of overseas countries. She is also responsible for the agency's innovation and reform function, including strategic human resources matters, and food composition and consumption studies and dietary modelling.

Dr Paul Brent—Chief Scientist

Dr Brent has executive responsibility for FSANZ's strategic scientific work, data collection activities, and developing collaborative relations with scientific institutions and the program that evaluates the impact of our standard-setting activities. He also coordinates our scientific relations with international agencies, especially Codex.

Dean Stockwell—General Manager Food Standards (Wellington)

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

Peter May—General Manager Legal 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, and parliamentary and ministerial liaison. He also has executive oversight of communication and stakeholder engagement.


Information and communication technology

The agency's ICT function continued to be a key business enabler, enhancer and driver for innovation. In 2012–13, we reduced reliance on contractor support for our infrastructure and further developed the capacity of our internal staff to quickly resolve network issues.

Among the goals achieved during the year were increasing the security and number of mobile devices available to staff, maintaining our core systems with minimal outages and high availability, rebuilding our website using SharePoint so that we can support the site internally, and continuing our program of replacing internal paper forms with electronic versions.

To enhance the usability of mobile devices internally, we implemented a firewall to reduce corporate data leak on our wireless network. We have also fitted further wireless access points to increase the signal to all parts of our offices.

Canberra–Wellington link

FSANZ is in the unique position in the APS of being a bi-national agency with heavy reliance on phone video and desktop sharing. We identified several options for improving these systems and have already increased the responsiveness of hardware for the end users in our Wellington office.

During the year, we successfully moved our New Zealand office to a more disaster-proof building, with no downtime for staff. All video-conferencing systems were upgraded, and further meeting rooms were made available.

An open tender process for the upgrade of the large video-conferencing system in the Canberra office has been completed. This work has begun and will enable better use and greater flexibility for video conferencing. We have also started work on an improved phone system, which incorporates phone, video and file sharing.

ICT disaster recovery

Our off-site disaster recovery infrastructure is now fully operational at its Fyshwick data centre. This has given us greater preparedness for uncontrolled events and, in conjunction with the updated disaster recovery and business continuity plans, puts us in a confident position.

Information and records management

FSANZ has initiated an Electronic Document Management System project. Phase 1 introduction of a current and relevant Business Classification Scheme document is complete.

We now have a logical architecture for the future system and have an outline of the process required to deliver the solution in early 2014. This system will be compliant with the National Archives of Australia (NAA) Digital Continuity Plan and the Digital Transition Policy. We are taking action to meet the NAA deadline of 2014 by installing our own compliant electronic document and records management system.

As part of improved document accessibility and storage, we began work on a data strategy. This will allow us to identify the data residing across the agency and then facilitate extended accessibility. As a result, we will have more control over the type and format of new data that we receive.

Planning and strategy

In 2012–13, we commenced an audit of FSANZ's information technology (IT) arrangements, as part of FSANZ's rolling program of internal audits, to assess our level of compliance with current IT management practices, including the Australian Public Service Information and Communications Technology Strategy 2012–2015.

In 2012–13, FSANZ received 10 requests for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. All 10 of these requests were finalised by 30 June 2013.

Internet technologies

Our social media presence continued to grow, with more than 5,450 'likes' on Facebook and 2,850 followers on Twitter at 30 June 2013.

Social media has proved effective in engaging with the community, broadening our reach and providing the agency with useful insights into the concerns of stakeholders, particularly consumers. Food safety and food recalls were the most popular posts on both social media formats, and questions resulting from recalls have allowed FSANZ to provide information about the recall system and how government and industry work together to manage that process.

In 2012–13, we issued more than 20 media releases, with most relating to calls for submissions on applications and proposals. This form of communication is supported by social media posts and information in newsletters. Because we are a small agency with limited resources, media releases and our relationship with media organisations help us to reach the community on urgent matters, such as food incidents.

Our website is a key tool in communicating with the community, receiving, on average, more than 90,000 unique visits a month. We launched a redesigned website in May 2013. The new website aims to improve navigation and readability. Through continuous improvement, aided by new user feedback facilities, we expect to maintain our position as a relevant and informative government website.

Governance and process

Role and priorities

FSANZ's main and subsidiary objectives for developing food standards are set out in s. 18 of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991. Our functions are outlined in s. 13 of the Act. These legislative requirements determine the way we do our core business.

Our goal is to achieve a high degree of public confidence in the safety and quality of food. This goal is shared by all elements of the food regulatory system. Our outputs—food standards—provide the food industry with the regulatory framework for conducting business, but the ultimate beneficiaries of our work are the Australian and New Zealand populations.

As described in our Corporate Plan 2012–2015, we operate under three 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.

These imperatives provide the framework for our annual undertakings to the Australian Parliament, outlined in Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), and reflected in the aims of Program 1.1 of the Health and Ageing PBS. We report against the deliverables and key performance indicators of Program 1.1 in the section on priorities and performance in this report.

Regulatory partners

FSANZ is one of three elements of the food regulatory system. The Council of Australian Governments Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation, convening as the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, and supported by the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC), develops and provides policy on food regulation. The states, territories and New Zealand ensure compliance and enforcement of provisions of the Code, increasingly through the coordination activities of FRSC's Implementation Sub-Committee for Food Regulation, of which FSANZ is a member.

Australian states and territories

Under an intergovernmental agreement, the states and territories agreed to adopt, without variation, food standards recommended by the National Food Authority (now FSANZ). The purpose of the original 1991 agreement was to consolidate responsibility for developing food standards into one specialist agency and to ensure the uniformity of food standards across all states and territories.

New Zealand

On 1 July 1996, a treaty came into force between Australia and New Zealand, to establish a single joint food standards system. The joint arrangement (last updated in 2010) aims to harmonise food standards between the two countries, reduce compliance costs for industry and help remove regulatory barriers to trade in food.

The treaty does not cover MRLs, food hygiene provisions, primary production standards and export requirements relating to third-country trade. It contains provisions that allow New Zealand to opt out of a joint standard for exceptional reasons relating to health, safety, trade, environmental concerns or cultural issues. In such cases, FSANZ may be asked to prepare a variation to a standard to apply only in New Zealand. An amended treaty with New Zealand was signed in July 2010.

We work collaboratively with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, which has carriage of food standards matters in that country.

Governance and parliament

Most of the contact with the office of our Parliamentary Secretary—the Hon. Catherine King MP (1 July 2012 – 24 March 2013) and the Hon. Shayne Neumann MP (25 March – 30 June 2013)—related to information, parliamentary-related functions and the provision of public affairs support. We also provide the parliamentary secretary's and minister's offices with twice-weekly 'Hot Issues' reports.

FSANZ performance

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 or no further action




a This includes 7 responses that were provided by the due date, but were processed the next working day.

b This includes 6 responses that were provided by the due date, but were processed the next working day.

FSANZ also provided input into correspondence on a large number of matters relating to FSANZ responsibilities, the overall responses for which were the responsibility of other branches within the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, or other departments in the Australian Government or state and territory governments.

These matters included general food safety issues, bisphenol A, food additives, labelling issues including country of origin, low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) hemp, olive oil labelling, health claims, carbendazim and vinclozolin MRLs, imported food issues, irradiation and genetically modified (GM) food.



Issues raised in minutes included FSANZ Board meeting outcomes, BSE risk assessment updates, updates on mandatory reporting of food-related illnesses, the launch of FSANZ's new website, cost recovery issues, imported food from Japan and releases of surveys.

Briefing note requests

% sent late

FSANZ also provided input into briefings on a number of matters relating to FSANZ responsibilities that were the responsibility of other branches of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing or other departments. Issues included carbendazim, olive oil, labelling, imported food, safety and labelling of GM food, and cost recovery.

Parliamentary Questions on Notice

% sent late

FSANZ provided input into a number of answers to Questions on Notice being managed by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Senate Estimates

Senior staff members appeared before Senate Estimates on three occasions during the year (October 2012, February 2013 and June 2013). Issues raised during the hearings and in subsequent Questions on Notice included safety and labelling of GM and irradiated food, general food safety and MRLs, cost recovery, low THC hemp, horse meat substitution in Europe, Australian National Audit Office audit recommendations relating to assessment reports and testing of imported food.

Question time briefings (QTBs)

FSANZ prepared more than 15 QTBs, either new QTBs or updating existing ones. FSANZ also provided input to numerous QTBs prepared by other areas within the portfolio, or other departments, where the issues crossed portfolio or agency responsibilities. Issues included the release of horse meat substitution in Europe, BSE, infant formula, GM food safety and labelling, bisphenol A and other general food safety issues.

Senate Rural and Regional Affairs References Committee—inquiry into beef imports into Australia

FSANZ made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at a public hearing held on 17 May 2013. FSANZ also responded to a number of Questions on Notice from the committee.

Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee—inquiry into the progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the 1999 Joint Expert Technical Advisory Committee on Antibiotic Resistance (JETACAR)

FSANZ contributed to a joint submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at a public hearing held on 7 March 2013.

Requests under Freedom of Information legislation

* Two of these requests were treated as one application, as the subject matter for both requests was very similar.


FSANZ has a 12-member Board appointed by the Australian Government Minister for Health and Ageing, following consultation with the Australian, state, territory and New Zealand governments. Members of the Board have been drawn from a number of areas of expertise covering public health, food science, medical science, consumer policy, primary industry, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the food industry and government.

All members are part-time, except for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Details of the qualifications of Board members and their attendance at meetings are summarised in Appendix 11.

The terms of Dr Michele Allan, Mr Peter Boyden and Dr James (Gardner) Murray AO ceased on 30 June 2013. Professor Katrine Baghurst passed away in December 2012.

The CEO of FSANZ, Mr Steve McCutcheon, is an ex-officio member of the Board. Mr McCutcheon's current period of appointment is until 29 October 2015.

The Board meets at least four times per year and also convenes through teleconferences to discuss urgent issues. Five Board meetings and two Board teleconferences were held in 2012–13. Members also considered matters out of session. FSANZ publishes outcomes of Board meetings on its website.

Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee

The Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee (FARMC) comprises non-executive Board Directors. It 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, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and compliance policies.

In 2012–13, the FARMC, under the chairmanship of Dr Michele Allan, continued to monitor the corporate governance and risk management activities of the agency, 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 that they (and their consequences) will occur.

The FARMC also oversees our corporate risk assessment processes, and these risk assessments inform both the FARMC's risk monitoring activities and the Strategic Internal Audit Plan. Internal audits considered by the FARMC in 2012–13 related to budgeting and planning, cost-recovery processes, Work Health and Safety Act 2011 compliance and governance of information communication technology in the agency.

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

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 and Board remuneration policies decided by the Remuneration Tribunal.

The committee comprises a chair and four members. The Deputy CEO and Executive Manager Food Standards (Canberra) is secretary to the committee. The committee did not meet in 2012–13.

Directors' insurance

In 2012–13, we reviewed the adequacy of our directors' and officers' insurance under the Comcover Statement of Cover. We do not have shareholders or investors, nor do we have direct powers of authority. Our main responsibility is to develop and administer the Code. We had claims of less than $40,000 over the last 15 years. As a result, we considered that our professional indemnity insurance coverage of $100,000,000 is sufficient for our likely risk exposure.

Business planning and management


FSANZ's ongoing tasks do not change significantly from year to year, and the Corporate Plan strongly reflects our responsibilities under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991. Our changing environment does, however, bring changes of priority and emphasis.

Within each of its strategic imperatives, FSANZ's Corporate Plan 2012–2015 identifies a number of areas of program focus. This sets the framework for the Business Plan that outlined our work, the allocation of resources and how our progress would be measured. These areas of focus are also underpinned by other areas of significant work that support us in achieving our mission, which are also outlined in the plan.

Our Business Plan 2012–13 provides a link between the strategic vision of the Board and our day-to-day work.

Consultants, competitive tendering and contractors

We spent $1,631,845 on consultants and contractors during the year on services and products costing more than $10,000 (see Appendix 9 for details).

Proposed amendments to the FSANZ Regulations, including cost-recovery arrangements

Fees are payable for the assessment of applications for 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 consideration of an application.

Following public consultation, the FSANZ Board completed a review of FSANZ's cost-recovery arrangements in December 2012 and published a final report recommending a number of changes to our cost-recovery arrangements. The proposed changes included an increase from $115 to $180 per hour in the hourly rate used to calculate fees and changes in the categories for determining the initial amount to be paid by an applicant.

The review also developed cost-recovery arrangements for high-level health claims, based on those for the general procedure.

The Australian Government's 2005 Cost Recovery Guidelines were applied in the review. These guidelines set out the cost-recovery principles that were followed by FSANZ in the review. We also consulted with a number of agencies to develop the costing methodology. Previous reviews had not properly determined fee levels using the Cost Recovery Guidelines. They had underestimated the full cost of business and created a probability that paid work is being subsidised by Budget-funded work.

In June 2013, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing decided not to approve regulations to implement the proposed increase. We have been directed to complete an additional cost-recovery impact analysis. This work will occur in the first half of 2013–14.

The review report, submissions and earlier consultation paper are available on the FSANZ website.


FSANZ approach to emerging issues

Emerging issues framework

In recent years, a number of food safety incidents have arisen from 'left field'—for example, the melamine contamination in milk and milk products incident. Such incidents have had a significant impact on food safety and/or consumer confidence both nationally and internationally.

FSANZ has now finalised a framework that we can use to identify and respond in a coordinated manner to emerging and ongoing issues, including issues with substantial community interest. The framework identifies the information sources we currently receive, assigns responsibility for sifting these information sources to relevant sections and provides a clear pathway for escalation of an issue.

The framework enables a coordinated FSANZ approach to considering emerging food safety issues and avoids potential duplication of activity. The approach includes an 'early alert' system where relevant staff are informed about new information on a potential issue that has been received and which sections are investigating the issue.

The usefulness of the framework will be reviewed in the next year. We have commenced planning for another element of the FSANZ approach—a horizon scanning workshop—in 2013–14.

Scientific matters under scrutiny

New plant breeding techniques

Until recently, the regulatory and community understanding of what constitutes a genetically modified (GM) food has been clear. All GM plant foods that have been assessed and approved to date by FSANZ and international regulatory agencies have been derived from plants that have undergone a DNA manipulation process known as 'transgenesis'.

A number of new plant breeding techniques, still involving manipulation of DNA, have been, or are being, developed. However, it is unclear whether the final food-producing line can be regarded as transgenic. FSANZ is increasingly being asked whether the foods produced using such techniques would be regarded as GM foods and therefore be subject to premarket assessment and approval.

FSANZ hosted a technical workshop in May 2012 to discuss the science that forms the basis of a number of these plant breeding techniques and the extent to which their use should be captured in the Code.

We intend releasing a report on the recommendations of the workshop in mid-2013.


We have continued to monitor developments in nanotechnology, as part of the whole-of-government response to this issue under the National Enabling Technologies Strategy (NETS). An extension of this work was made possible this year through receipt of further NETS funding. In addition to evaluating the safety of nanoscale versions of existing materials used in food processing or production, we have engaged with industry and other stakeholders on the potential use of nanomaterials in food and food packaging.

Food packaging

We are considering reviewing our regulatory approach to food packaging materials. As part of this process, a comparative evaluation of other international requirements has been undertaken, as well as an assessment of the safety of potential migratory chemicals from packaging. We actively engaged with the food packaging industry and other food business to seek their views and expert technical input on packaging.

We carried out further survey work as part of the 24th ATDS, in which food and beverages were analysed for phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, bisphenol A, epoxidised soybean oil and printing inks.

Antimicrobial resistance

FSANZ provided detailed input into the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing's joint agency submission to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee on the inquiry into progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the 1999 Joint Expert Technical Advisory Committee on Antibiotic Resistance (JETACAR). The submission reiterated that a response to the challenges of antimicrobial resistance in Australia involved a combination of regulation, monitoring and surveillance, targeted activity on specific organisms, research and education.

The final report on the inquiry was tabled in June 2013 and is now available on the Senate's website.10

FSANZ is a member of several working groups of the Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention and Containment Steering Group, established in March 2013 to oversee the development and implementation of a coherent national framework for current and future work related to antimicrobial resistance.




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