Our main function is to develop and raise awareness about food standards. These standards, which become part of the food regulatory legislation in states and territories and New Zealand, provide confidence in our food supply by providing assurance that food sold in Australia and New Zealand is safe and suitable.
We aim to develop food regulatory measures that are pragmatic, informed by science and consider the expectations of the community, industry and government. Food regulatory measures are developed through applications and proposals to amend the Food Standards Code. We apply effective and efficient project management to the processing of applications and proposals to ensure we meet statutory timeframes defined in the FSANZ Act.
Data on applications submitted, assessed, and approved or rejected is collected through our in-house standards management system. Numbers of applications that are processed and completed within statutory timeframes are also reported annually in the PBS.
The pre-application process is an important part of managing applications. It is the way that applicants can obtain advice about whether their application meets the data requirements specified in the Application Handbook. Although not a mandatory process, using this service helps to ensure that FSANZ obtains the information it needs to assess application and provides efficiencies for both FSANZ and the applicant. Therefore we collected data to evaluate the usage of the pre-application process.
Timely and consistent processing of applications and proposals
% applications completed within the statutory timeframe*
% of applications that are completed ahead of the statutory timeframe
% of proposals that meet agreed progress timeframes
17/18 or 94%
4/18 or 22%
8/13 or 61%
All applications were completed within statutory timelines except for one (A1155).
Four applications were completed ahead of their statutory due date in that they were approved by the Board in advance of the last possible meeting at which they could be approved.
Proposals P1050, P1054 and M1017 all met their scheduled timelines and Proposals P1028, P1044, P1052, P1053, and P1055 all progressed in accordance with revised timelines as approved by their relevant Delegate.
% of accepted applications that have used the draft application process
% of accepted applications that the draft process included meetings (face to face or teleconference) with FSANZ.
15/32 or 47%
10/32 or 31%
Of the applications accepted and assessed in this FY, including those accepted and those disposed (withdrawn or rejected), FSANZ provided comments on almost 50% through the draft application process.
FSANZ also offers one face to face meeting to applicants to assist them with information requirements. Meetings were held with 31% of applicants prior to formal submission of their application, mostly in addition to comments on their drafts.
* Indicates that the measure overlaps with deliverables set by our portfolio agency the Australian Department of Health.
Case study – FSANZ pre-application assistance
We strongly encourage applicants seeking to make an amendment to the Food Standards Code to contact us before formal submission so FSANZ can provide pre-application assistance.
Pre-application assistance includes:
- providing information to potential applicants on making an application to amend the Code
- an applicant providing a draft application to FSANZ for written comments and discussion
- a meeting between FSANZ staff and a potential applicant to provide information and/or written comments on their draft application.
Providing pre-application assistance is not a requirement under the FSANZ Act 1991. However, it helps ensure an application contains the information described in Act and the Application Handbook and it is provided as part of good regulatory practice to support the food standards setting system, consistent with the
FSANZ service charter.
There are no statutory timeframes attached to the consideration of draft applications but comments are generally provided back to the applicant in 4-6 weeks.
The process is effective in reducing the burden on applicants and project teams during the administrative and full assessment periods prescribed by the Act and ultimately reduces the cost for FSANZ and the applicant in any delays to the approval of their proposed variation to the Code.
In the 2019-20 FY FSANZ updated the internal operating procedures concerning pre-application assistance to promote consistency in our approach and include refinements made to the process overtime. The
external advice for potential applicants which provides all the relevant information for potential applicants wanting to use this service was also updated as part of this process.
The results indicate that FSANZ has met expectations for this outcome. Timely processing of applications and proposals has been achieved for almost all applications and for a large proportion of proposals. Completing applications ahead of statutory timeframes was also achieved. This result is dependent on a number of factors including available resources and these may need to be considered when comparing year to year.
The current metric on the number of applications meeting statutory timeframes does not reflect the range of complexity in applications to vary the Code. In future, reporting will also compare the nature of applications.
A good proportion of applicants utilise the pre-application process. A higher proportion could create greater efficiency in processing applications. FSANZ intends to look at ways to encourage more applicants to seek pre-application assistance in our review of internal standards setting processes that is currently underway.