Food Standards Australia New Zealand Logo
Food Standards Australia New Zealand Logo

Chapter 4: Key Enablers

​​​​​(October 2019) 

RISK – AN ANTICIPATIVE APPROACH TO MANAGING RISK

Our approach

Risk analysis is the internationally agreed method that shapes our approach to food standards and safety decisions. It consists of three parts – risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. Risk assessment involves an evaluation of the best available scientific evidence to provide the technical basis of decisions. From this base, risk management is the application of law, policies and perspectives that enables sound judgement. Both processes are supported by platform of risk communication to optimise information sharing.

Emerging issues and intelligence

FSANZ published its third Annual Emerging Issues report in May 2019. One new emerging issue was identified: microplastics in the food supply. Ten issues were archived and a watching brief on seven issues was maintained.

Table 9: Ongoing issues in 2019

Antimicrobial resistance

Arsenic in rice

3-monochloro-propandiol and glycidal esters

Glutamates in food

Hepatitis A virus in ready-to-eat berries

Per– and Poly-fluoroalkyl substances

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids

 

Behavioural and Regulatory Analysis

In 2018–19 FSANZ assisted the broader food regulatory system by providing behavioural and regulatory analysis advice and expertise in the policy development processes of the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC). We worked with FRSC policy reference groups to reduce duplication in the policy development process when they were likely to result in standards development activity.

Meetings of the International Food Safety Regulatory Economics Working Group and the International Social Science Liaison Group were held during the year. These groups comprise economists and social scientists working in government food regulation, policy and standards setting. Meetings provide opportunities to share methodological approaches, data and findings relevant to the activities of the agencies. Membership comprises Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, EFSA (ISSLG only), Korea (FSREWG only). Both meetings were successful, with new collaborative projects identified.

Regulatory and behavioural analysis continued to inform standards development, with substantive work being undertaken in relation to: P1050 Pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic beverages; P1049 Carbohydrate and sugar claims on alcoholic beverages; P1044 Plain English allergen labelling; P1028 Review of infant formula standard.

Risk advice for imported food

Imported food is inspected and controlled using a risk-based border inspection program called the Imported Food Inspection Scheme, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture (Agriculture). FSANZ advises Agriculture on whether imported foods pose a potential medium or high risk to public health and safety. Agriculture then determines appropriate measures to manage food safety risks for food imported into Australia.

In 2018‒2019 we provided risk advice to Agriculture on a range of potential microbial and chemical hazards for imported human milk and human milk products. We also published a guideline document in December 2018 that describes the assessment process for risks from food imported into Australia. This document includes the microbiological risk characterisation framework utilised for the assessment of microbiological hazards. An additional chapter that provides specific guidance on the assessment of chemical hazards in imported foods will be included in a future edition.

SCIENCE – ROBUST EVIDENCE AND SUSTAINED, HIGH-QUALITY SCIENTIFIC CAPACITY

Regulatory Science Strategy

To ensure that we are undertaking high-quality science, FSANZ implements a Regulatory Science Strategy outlining a strategic approach to ensuring our scientific capability is maintained. The strategy aims to develop our scientific capabilities, tools and partnerships in food regulatory science to meet current and future needs. It positions us to effectively respond to the strategic challenges of a complex operating environment, advance regulatory science and use the best available scientific evidence to inform decision-making.

The FSANZ Science Strategy 2018–2022 identifies three key strategic areas: scientific capability, evidence and collaboration.

During 2018–19 FSANZ undertook a comparative assessment of our performance compared to a baseline, which provided valuable information about where to focus our efforts. Also, recognising that our strategic environment is changing, FSANZ drafted the new Regulatory Science Strategy 2019–23. The new strategy describes how we intend to respond to current and anticipated global challenges into the future and maintain our position as a leader in regulatory science in our region.

Fellows

FSANZ Fellows are experts in a range of scientific disciplines. They provide us with objective expert advice and critical review of our work. This program also helps to develop academic links and networks.

Table 10: FSANZ Fellows

FSANZ FELLOW BACKGROUND/EXPERTISE

​Professor Andrew Bartholomaeus

​Toxicology and human health risk assessment

Emeritus Professor Ken Buckle

Food science, processing and microbiology

Dr Laurence Eyres

Food technology

Professor David Fraser

Vitamin D

Distinguished Professor Nigel French

Molecular epidemiology and risk research

Professor Stephen Goodall

Health economist

Professor Bridget Hutter

Social sciences

​Professor Martyn Kirk

​ Applied epidemiology

​Professor Peter Langridge

​Genomics

​Professor Brian Priestly

​Health risk assessment

​Professor Seppo Salminen

​Intestinal micro biota and health, probiotics and prebiotics,
health claims

​Professor Samir Samman

​Human nutrition

​Professor Murray Skeaff

​Nutrition

​Professor Mark Tamplin

​Microbiology and food safety

​Professor Wendy Umberger

​Agricultural and food economics


Student projects

The student research project gives students an opportunity to gain research experience working alongside staff from FSANZ. In participating, students can extend their knowledge of food regulatory science. In 2018–19 FSANZ hosted two students from the University of Sydney for an 11-week placement looking at imported food risk advice and options for collecting food labelling information.

Australia New Zealand Science Forum

The Australia New Zealand Science Forum allows FSANZ and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (NZMPI) to nurture our scientific relationship. 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. In particular, FSANZ collaborates on current projects jointly managed by FSANZ and NZMPI that are funded under the NZMPI Operational Research Program. During 2018‒19, FSANZ hosted two additional science forum meetings with our New Zealand stakeholders, with a focus on nutrition science and biotechnology aspects.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

FSANZ supports the implementation of the National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy through various activities including technical expertise to a working group, led by the Commonwealth Department of Health. In 2018–19 FSANZ led the Australian delegation to the Codex ad hoc Taskforce on AMR. The taskforce is currently developing draft guidelines on Integrated Surveillance for AMR and reviewing the Code of Practice to Minimise and Contain AMR. We have also contributed to the development of the next national AMR strategy, 2020 and beyond. FSANZ is also a member of the Australian Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Toxicological assessment

FSANZ completed toxicological assessments on: • Monk Fruit Extract as a Food Additive • L-carnitine as a Nutritive Substance • Polysorbate 20 as a Food Additive • Steviol glycosides as a Food Additive • Potassium Polyaspartate as a Food Additive • Thermolysin (Protease) as a Processing Aid • ß-galactosidase from Papiliotrema terrestris as a Processing Aid • Rosemary Extract as a Food Additive • Lactase from Bacillus subtilis as a Processing Aid • L-amino acid acetate in Food for Special Medical Purposes. We provided the Department of Agriculture with risk assessment advice on therapeutics, drugs of abuse, persistent organic pollutants, mycotoxins and metal contaminants that may be found in human breast milk. FSANZ also continued to provide expert scientific advice on the toxicity and dietary exposure to perfluorinated compounds in the food supply to support site- specific risk assessment of PFAS compounds conducted by the states and territories.

World Health Organization activities

We contributed to World Health Organization activities including the 87th meeting of Joint FAO/ WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). JECFA is an independent scientific expert committee which performs risk assessments and provides advice to FAO, WHO and the member countries of both organisations, as well as to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). FSANZ also participated in an expert meeting revising the Dose–Response Assessment and Derivation of Health-Based Guidance Values chapter in the WHO guidance on ‘Principles and Methods for the Risk Assessment of Chemicals in Food’. Our staff sit on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Water Quality Advisory Committee (WQAC) which provides expert advice to NHMRC on public health issues related to drinking water quality. FSANZ’s participation on this committee helps to ensure consistent approaches to the assessment of chemical and microbiological contaminants in food and drinking water. Our experts also participate on NHMRC committees undertaking the priority driven review of the nutrient reference values.

Case study: Assessments of steviol glycoside food additives

 

 

 

Steviol glycosides are the chemical compounds responsible for the sweet taste of the plant-derived sweetener called Stevia. FSANZ completed a series of assessments of steviol glycosides produced using two different production methods involving biotechnology. One such method is enzymatic conversion. In this process, plant enzymes expressed by microorganisms, are incubated with an extract of the Stevia leaf to prepare an enriched solution of steviol glycosides. The other method involves fermentation, where steviol glycosides are produced from a genetically modified microorganism, independent of the Stevia plant. This last example is the first food additive produced using gene technology that has been approved by FSANZ.

 

Nutrition risk assessment

  • FSANZ provided nutrition risk assessment input for the following applications and proposals:
  • A1102 – L-carnitine as a nutritive substance
  • A1155 – 2’–FL and LNnT in infant formula and other products
  • A1173 – Minimum protein in follow–on formula
  • P1028 – Infant formula
  • P1030 – Composition and labelling of electrolyte drinks
  • P1044 – Plain English Allergen Labelling
  • P1046 – L-amino acid acetate in Food for Special Medical Purposes

Dietary Exposure Assessments

A key component of our scientific risk assessments is the preparation of a dietary exposure assessment (DEA). FSANZ is recognised nationally and internationally as having a high degree of expertise in this area. Dietary exposure assessments were completed for a range of applications (e.g. A1137 Polysorbate 20 as a food additive, A1149 Addition of steviol glycosides to fruit drinks, A1161 Potassium polyaspartate as a Food Additive, A1102 L-carnitine in food, A1156 Food derived from Super High Oleic Safflower Lines 26 and 40). In addition, in recognition of our expertise in this area, we have participated in FAO/WHO international working groups and expert committees (JECFA) and provided input into the revision of international guidance documents on dietary exposure assessments. We also provided technical advice and DEA services, including staff training in the use of the Harvest DEA database, to a New Zealand government agency.

International

FSANZ continued to be actively engaged with our international regulatory partners. For example, in April we signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the European Food Safety Authority. We take part in a number of international liaison groups involving other national food agencies. These liaison groups usually meet by teleconference.

We lead Australian delegations to five committees/taskforces of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius, namely those relating to food additives, contaminants, nutrition, food hygiene and anti-microbial resistance. We are also leading important work on allergen labelling on behalf of Australia for the Codex Committee on Food Labelling.

Throughout the year we welcomed international delegations from a number of countries, including Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Kingdom.

FSANZ also takes a leadership role in co-chairing the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF), with the Chinese General Administration for Customs. In May we led a suite of APEC food safety events in Viña del Mar, Chile and were successful in steering the APEC Forum to an agreed statement relating to food safety activities.

We also managed two high-profile APEC projects which included the organisation of a number of international FSCF expert meetings. The first project was the development of an ‘APEC Framework on Food Safety Modernisation’ which was funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The development of the framework strengthened FSANZ’s capability and enhanced FSANZ’s links with international stakeholders. The second project was co-funded by Australian Department of Agriculture and DFAT and worked to develop two implementation tools to facilitate the harmonisation of maximum residue limits for pesticides. Both projects were successfully completed.

 

L-R: Glen Neal (General Manager, FSANZ) and Bernhard Url (Executive Director, EFSA) exchanging the signed European Food Safety Authority/FSANZ MoC.

 

FSANZ successfully hosted the 3rd Expert Meeting on trade facilitation through an APEC Framework on Food Safety and Modernisation with support from the Chinese government in Shanghai, in November 2018.

PEOPLE – DEDICATED PEOPLE WITH A DIVERSE RANGE OF SPECIALIST DISCIPLINES

 

FSANZ has staff with expertise in a diverse range of scientific disciplines, including toxicology, nutrition, food technology, microbiology, biotechnology, public health, immunology, chemistry, mathematical modelling, epidemiology, behavioural and social science and regulatory analysis. Our expertise enables us to deal with a broad range of food regulatory issues, using the risk analysis framework. FSANZ has specialised risk-assessment and risk management teams. Our risk-management teams include staff with expertise in the use of food labelling as an effective risk-management tool.

Our staff continue to strengthen their external links through membership of professional associations at both national and international levels and through participation in forums such as the Regulatory Science Network (RSN) which enable staff to discuss a broad range of technical and scientific issues and promote interagency cooperation in food regulatory scienc

Our staff published 6 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 9 abstracts in scientific proceedings in 2018‒2019 (Appendix 10).

Staff forum

FSANZ supports open communication and information sharing between staff and the Executive. This is encouraged through a number of avenues, one being a staff forum which is made up of representatives of each section of the agency and meets monthly. The forum chair reports to the Executive each month to provide feedback on workplace issues raised by the staff forum and any outcomes from the Executive are reported back to the Forum. In 2018–19 the Forum discussed a range of issues, including progress on our culture change work and a range of workplace policies including WH&S, working from home and travel.

Sustainable development

FSANZ is located in a 5 Star, Green Star-rated building. The building has been designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water usage. Energy saving devices have been used throughout the building and the fit-out to further reduce energy consumption. FSANZ continues to work closely with the building owners to ensure efficiency of the Australian and New Zealand office air conditioning and electricity usage, limiting the overuse of energy during working hours. FSANZ has also contracted to source 10 per cent of energy for 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 computers and monitors when they leave for the night
  • reducing electricity by using sensors for the office lights in the Canberra office, ensuring lights are turned off when there is no movement in an area
  • providing recycling bins in all kitchens, and 
  • recycling decommissioned computers, tablets and phones.

Training

FSANZ supported staff in a range of professional development activities during 2018–19. FSANZ spent $318,000 on staff development during the financial year and provided in-house training that was available for all staff.

FSANZ employment profile

Tables 11–16 summarise 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 at 30 June for the year in question. Employee numbers stabilised in 2018–19. Non-ongoing employees have been engaged during the year in order to manage workloads and deliver against priority work (see Table 11).  

Table 11: Total employees

 

 

​FSANZ 2017–18

APS Dec 2018

FSANZ 2018–19

Total employees

​​108

​152,095

​ ​117

Total employees (ongoing)

97

137,255

94

Total employees (non-ongoing)

11

14,840

11

New Zealand-based employees

12

n/a

12

 

Table 12: Stability and mobility

 

​FSANZ 2017–18

APS Dec 2018

FSANZ 2018–19

New starters – ongoing

(% employees ongoing)

​​5 (4.6%)

​9,123 (6.6%)

10 (9.2%)

New starters – non-ongoing

10

n/a

8

Separations – ongoing

12

9,677

16

Retention rate

(% ongoing employees)

88%

n/a

83.3%


 Table 13: Workforce diversity

 

​APS Dec 2018

FSANZ 2018–19

Indigenous Australian employees

3%

1%

Employees with disability

9%

9%

Non-English Speaking Background
(NESB)

23%

35%

Women

59%

68%

​Part-time employees (ongoing)

​15.8%

​16.8%


The retention rate decreased in 2018–19, with the majority of separations occurring because of employees moving to new roles (see Table 12).

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 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. Two thirds of our employees are women.

We continue to support flexible working arrangements for staff, with part-time employment numbers (17 per cent) being significantly higher than the rest of the APS (see Table 13).

Table 14: Workforce experience

 

 

​FSANZ 2017–18

APS Dec 2018

FSANZ 2018–19

Average length of service in APS (ongoing)

​​11 years

10.5 years

​ 9.75 years

 

 Table 15: Age structure

 

 

​FSANZ 2017–18

APS Dec 2018

FSANZ 2018–19

Less than 30

​​4.6%

13%

​ 5.5%

​30 to 39

​24.8%

​26%

​25.0%

​40 to 49

​24.8%

​29%

​27.7%

​50 to 59

​34.9%

​25%

​34.3%

​Over 60

​10.9%

​8%

​7.4%

 

Table 16: Classification structure

 

​FSANZ 2017–18

APS Dec 2018

FSANZ 2018–19

APS levels

41% (46 people)

70.6%

40.7% (44 people)

EL levels

55% (63 people)

26.2%

​55.5% (60 people)

​SES

​4% (5 people)

​1.9%

3.7% (4 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 14). The proportion of FSANZ employees who are over 50 years has decreased from 45.8 per cent of all employees to 41.7 per cent of employees in 2018–19. Those under 40 years are currently 30.5 per cent of employees, a minor increase on the prior year. The mean age of FSANZ employees is 47, compared with the APS mean age of 43 years (see Table 15). 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 16).

Employment conditions

In early 2019 FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth issued a remuneration determination for Australian employees under Section 24(1) of the Public Service Act which maintained the current Enterprise Agreement and allowed for a 2% pay rise effective 16 May 2019, with a further 2% pay rise each of the following two years i.e. 16 May 2020 and 16 May 2021. New Zealand employees are employed on individual contracts and are not covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

Work health and safety

FSANZ is committed to work health and safety through a number of initiatives, one of which is the Health and Safety Committee. The committee is made up of representatives of management, work health and safety representatives, first-aid officers and workplace behaviour contact officers. The committee reports on a number of items, including incidents reported, first aid reports and activities, workplace behaviour contacts and HR statistics that might identify if there is an area of concern within the agency. FSANZ supports activities that aim to contribute to the wellness of staff including: • FSANZ provided onsite flu vaccinations for all employees and reimbursement for some employees who received it at a different location. • Flexible working arrangements are encouraged to support work-life balance. Thirty-two employees currently have formal flexible working arrangements in place, including seven employees with formal working from home agreements.

Workplace bullying and harassment

Trained harassment contact officers (known as Workplace Behaviour Contact Officers) continued to assist employees who feel they may have been discriminated against, bullied and/or harassed. In 2018–19 no formal complaints were made under the bullying and harassment guidelines. During the year, FSANZ implemented a new Workplace Behaviour Policy that supports, encourages and enforces respectful and courteous workplace behaviour. It also provides guidance on appropriate and inappropriate 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 2018–19 FSANZ honoured three staff members for their contribution to the work of the agency. FSANZ also presented 13 staff with long-service awards. These employees were acknowledged and thanked for their contribution and dedication to FSANZ.

Chair’s Annual Development Award

The Chair’s Annual Development Award was awarded to Katinka Mitchell for exemplifying the APS Values and Code of Conduct during her employment at FSANZ, showing herself to be impartial, committed to service, accountable, respectful and ethical.

Achievement Awards

FSANZ’s Achievement Award is a cross-agency initiative that acknowledges the contribution of an individual or team displaying innovation, outstanding performance, client service, corporate achievement or excellence while modelling the APS values in their core duties.

This year the team Achievement Awards were presented to our finance team for their work during major system and structure changes and the food safety and response team for their work on the strawberry tampering incident. Individual achievement awards were presented to Diane Bourn for her significant contributions to high-profile and complex labelling projects and Amanda Tritt for her high standard of work and performance in managing Application A1155 – HMO in infant and toddler formula.

 The Chair’s Annual Development Award was presented to Katinka Mitchell (pictured centre with CEO Mark Booth and Board Chair Robyn Kruk).

 

Vicki Monterosso and Vicki Hubber with CEO Mark Booth and Board Chair Robyn Kruk.

     

 

Food Safety team Jessica McNeill, Gabrielle Weidner, and Patricia Blenman with CEO Mark Booth and Board Chair Robyn Kruk.

 

Diane Bourn with CEO Mark Booth.


Amanda Tritt with CEO Mark Booth.

COMMUNICATION – A BROAD COMMUNICATION CAPACITY 

Stakeholder engagement

FSANZ engages regularly with stakeholders both formally and informally. In 2019 we held our first biennial stakeholder event. Food Regulation and whether it is fit for purpose given rapidly changing technology was under the microscope at the forum.

The one-day forum was a mix of expert presentations and moderated discussion panels, and was followed by a reception where attendees met with presenters and FSANZ Board members.

Speakers included Dr Norman Swan, host of The Health Report on the ABC’s Radio National and Tonic on ABC News 24; Professor Martin Cole, Director of Food and Nutrition Flagship at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); and Professor Linda Tapsell, a leading academic in the discipline of nutrition and dietetics.


 

Social media

This year we added Instagram to our social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter). Our combined social media audience is now around 70,000. Food recall notifications continue to attract the most engagement but we are driving engagement with other posts on subjects as diverse as food safety (e.g. not washing chicken before cooking); the science of food (why some people hate coriander) and FSANZ’s nutrition database. 

 

2018 Stakeholder survey

We conducted our biennial stakeholder survey between 15 April and 14 June 2019. The survey offers an insight into how stakeholders think FSANZ is performing in its key roles and their understanding of what we do. This year we also asked stakeholders to give us feedback on potential modernisation and what roles they thought FSANZ should undertake in the food regulation system. We expect to publish a report on the outcome of the survey in September 2019.

Website

Our website attracts more than 1 million unique visitors annually. Each year parts of our website are reviewed for currency and potential improvements. We also publish new content every year, including information about food incidents and recalls, responses to issues and updated scientific information. In 2018–19 our new content included information about glyphosate, recalls of eggs due to Salmonella Enteritidis, an updated Australian Food Composition Database and microplastics in food.

Publications

FSANZ has a number of popular publications. These include our Listeria brochure, Allergen poster and Safe Food Australia publication. This year we developed several new online publications including A Report on Emerging Issues; a Report on the Strawberry Tampering Incident; updated Imported Food Risk Assessments; A Technical Assessment of Carbohydrate Claims in Alcohol and an Analytical Survey of Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons in Food and Food Packaging.

Information and Communication Technology

During 2018–19 FSANZ’s ICT team managed the infrastructure, data and communications network and developed and managed ICT operational policy (including security policies), application development and lifecycle management of FSANZ’s ICT assets. Additionally, they assisted directorates and agencies in relation to ICT security matters.

FSANZ’s entire backend server infrastructure underwent an upgrade in 2018–19, with the new servers being faster, twice as efficient and half the cost over the life cycle of the hardware. They will also allow for our virtual servers to seamlessly failover to another physical server if one fails. The servers provide double the memory and 75% more computer power than was previously available. This means that all internal applications will run faster and minimises the risk of network disruptions.

The external-facing infrastructure was upgraded to SharePoint 2016 and the SQL server was upgraded to version 2017.

Canberra–Wellington external collaboration

FSANZ simplified its user authentication process this year so that staff in the Wellington office are able to login to systems in the same way as staff in Canberra. Remote users are now able to log on with improved security and better capability.

Video Conferencing was also improved with Cisco Telepresence Management suite, which simplifies room bookings and improves room availability.

Information and records management

FSANZ supported the Government’s Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, showing continued improvement in the 2018 Check-Up digital survey of digital information management capability. We continue to work towards the Digital Continuity 2020 deadline. We develop electronic forms for business processes and our paper record digitisation program is complete. FSANZ has also established an information governance committee and has implemented an information Governance Framework and Digital Strategy.

GOVERNANCE – GOOD GOVERNANCE AND EFFECTIVE PROCESS

Governance and parliament

FSANZ has processes and practices in place to manage interaction with ministers and their officers, as well as other government departments. For most of 2018‒19 the Minister for Rural Health, the Hon Bridget McKenzie, was the minister responsible for food regulation. Following the 2019 federal election, the Hon Richard Colbeck has responsibility for food regulation.

Ministerial correspondence

FSANZ provides input to correspondence handled by the Minister’s office as well as input into FSANZ-related matters handled by other Commonwealth and state and territory agencies. Issues raised in correspondence include GM, allergen labelling reform, plastic packaging, foo additives and raw milk.

Table 17: Ministerial correspondence

 Completed on time1-2 days late3-7 days late8-14 days late>14 days lateTOTAL for actionFor info / no further action
2018‒192000002013
 100%0000  
2017‒183900003918
 100%0000  
2016‒173800003820
 100%0000  
2015‒162800002827
 100%0%0%0%0%100% 

 Table 18: Ministerial submissions

 SentReturned
2018-1944
2017‒1821
2016‒1742
2015‒161414


Issues raised in ministerial submissions included cost recovery and changes to regulations and the strawberry tampering report.

Table 19: Briefing note requests

 SentLate
2018-19100
2017‒18170
2016‒17210
2015‒16160

 

FSANZ responded to or generated briefing note requests on a number of matters relating to the outcomes of Board meetings and teleconferences, release of new breeding techniques discussion paper, nanoparticles in infant formula, food incident responses, NBT preliminary report, MCPD survey and the FSANZ inaugural biennial stakeholder forum.

Table 20: Parliamentary questions on notice

 ReceivedSentLate
2018‒19000
2017‒18110
2016‒17000
2015‒16000

 

Senate estimates

Senior staff were required to appear before Senate Estimates on 1 occasion during 2018‒19 (October 2018 ). Issues raised during the hearings related to new breeding techniques and GM labelling.

Parliamentary enquiries

Nil.

Notice of motion

Nil.

FSANZ Board

We are governed by a 12-member Board, whose members are drawn from Australia and New Zealand. Members have a number of areas of expertise covering public health, food science, medical science, consumer policy, primary industry, the food industry and government.

The nine Australian members are appointed by the Australian Minister for Health, in consultation with the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, following consultation with the Australian, state, territory and New Zealand governments and consideration by the Cabinet. The three New Zealand members are nominated by the New Zealand Government and appointed by the Australian Minister for Health.

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

In July 2018 Dr Michael Dunbier was appointed to the Board. The term of Dr Stephen Corbett ceased on 30 June 2019.

The Board recognises the importance of applying sound governance principles and practices. It has adopted a Board Charter to ensure that FSANZ meets 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 during 2018‒19. Board meeting outcomes are published on our website.

Ethical standards

The Board Charter outlines Board members’ responsibilities in dealing with directors’ conflicts of interest and material personal interests. The Board also has an agreed process for managing conflicts of interest for FSANZ Board members 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

New Board members are provided with a formal induction which includes a meeting with the Board Chair, FSANZ CEO and Executive Management team. Board members are also provided with an Induction Manual (which includes the Board Charter, Corporate Plan, Business Plan and other relevant information).    

Board members attend an annual formal training session which 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.

Board performance

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

Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee (FARMC)

The Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee (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 our 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.

During 2017‒18, 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 regularly 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 our corporate risk- assessment processes, and these risk assessments inform both FARMC’s risk monitoring activities and the Strategic Internal Audit Plan. Internal audits considered by FARMC in 2017‒18 related to FSANZ’s risk management framework.

FARMC also 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 and the FSANZ CEO.

People, Culture and Remuneration Committee

In December 2018 the Board agreed to rename the previous Remuneration and Senior Staff Committee to People, Culture and Remuneration Committee. This newly named committee has subsumed the existing responsibilities of the Remuneration and Senior Staff committee and has broadened its remit around capability, people and culture.
The committee meets at least twice a year 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).

Directors’ insurance

Under the Comcover Statement of Cover, FSANZ maintained professional indemnity insurance coverage for our directors (Board members) and officers of $100 million.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Content Editor

Print

Return to top