New challenges across a “host of areas” face the food regulation sector, Food Standards Australian New Zealand (FSANZ) says in its 2019-20 Corporate Plan.
Consultation with key stakeholders reaffirmed an “independent and scientifically credible standards setting agency is critical and lies at the core of the food regulatory system”. But it has been “significantly constrained” with funding cut by a third in seven years while demands have increased on the agency, it said. “Modernising the FSANZ contribution is not cost free but will have significant system wide benefits.”
The food regulation system has “served both countries well for the last two decades” but new challenges include:
rapid advances in technology that are changing food production techniques;
increasingly complex international supply chains;
increasing consumer expectations;
greater understanding of the links between food consumption and health status; and
increased emphasis upon traceability, reductions in food waste and food authenticity.
All of these point to the need for the system to adapt and change, it said.
“Looking ahead, it will be crucial for us to work closely with our stakeholders and collaborators to ensure that we are able to respond to future challenges and to ensure that our regulatory system keeps pace and continues to underpin the trust of our food supply,” it said.
FSANZ said the feedback confirmed risk analysis was core to its purpose and required scientific expertise, effective support, access to data and information to support fulfill its role.
“We need to maintain our scientific base and should seek to expand this via strategic partnerships with other organisations such as universities and research institutes. We have core capability and expertise that can be more effectively leveraged to support the food regulatory system and can provide a greater input into policy making processes.”
But the agency said tis activities were constrained by “settings that are process based rather than outcome focussed”, which reduce its ability to be “agile and innovative”.
Strategic directions for the agency mapped in the plan could be looked at under three broad and interdependent themes: a trusted leader; deeply engaged with stakeholders; and an independent contributor to a robust and agile food regulatory system.
The plan can be viewed here.