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About the NSW Food Authority

The NSW Food Authority works with key agencies including local councils and NSW Health to ensure effective food safety and food quality management underpins confidence in the state’s food industry and reduces the incidence of food poisoning.

We take a consultative approach to working with stakeholders across the state’s varied food industries including meat, egg, dairy, poultry, seafood and shellfish, plants, vulnerable population and retail sectors to deliver safe, quality and healthy food in NSW.

We work to ensure food produced, manufactured and sold in NSW is monitored and safe at each step it goes through – from paddock to plate.

Our ongoing process of measuring and promoting food safety to the food industry and the provision of education resources for consumers, empowers them to make more informed and educated food choices.

This in turn improves the quality and safety of food, enhancing the confidence and wellbeing of the NSW community.

For more information on the role of the Food Authority and our commitment to food safety download our corporate overview.
 

Food safety drivers: industry, producers, education, governments, consumers, markets and science

Who we are

The Food Authority is a state government agency established in 2004 to provide NSW with an integrated food regulation system.

Responsible to the Minister for Primary Industries, the Food Authority provides a single point of contact on food safety and regulation for industry, local government and consumers.

The Food Authority is a statutory authority and part of the Department of Primary Industries, and is one of the agencies that make up the NSW Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development (NSW Department of Industry).

The NSW Food Regulation Framework: taking priorities of Informed consumers plus Safe & suitable food, into the regulatory framework and implementing with local government for food businesses and consumers through information, advice, audits, inspections and enforcement.

Management and structure

Dr Lisa Szabo
Chief Executive Officer and Director Food Safety

As CEO of the NSW Food Authority, Lisa Szabo ensures the Food Authority’s strong performance in food safety compliance and community and stakeholder engagement continues to grow and develop.

Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Doctor of Philosophy (Microbiology) from the University of Queensland. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Inc and member of the International Association of Food Protection (USA). Lisa was a research scientist with the CSIRO before she joined the Food Authority in 2006.

Peter Day
Director Biosecurity & Food Safety Compliance

Peter Day leads the Biosecurity & Food Safety Compliance group which includes Licensing, Audit Systems & Verification, Compliance Investigations, and Food Incident Response & Complaints.

The group's overarching role is to ensure the safety and integrity of the NSW food supply by monitoring NSW food industry compliance with regulatory requirements. This includes enforcing the Food Act 2003, Food Standards Code and the Food Regulation 2015 including labelling and advertising requirements; inspecting premises, vehicles and equipment used for the handling of food; auditing and verifying statutory food safety programs; and investigating consumer and food industry complaints.

A critical element of this role is the group's capacity for quick response in the event of a food safety system breakdown. Two key areas of work are investigating foodborne infections and intoxications in cooperation with NSW Health, and conducting, monitoring and supervising food recalls in cooperation with Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Peter holds a Master of Arts Degree (Public Sector Leadership & Policy) from Griffith University, an Associate Diploma in Food Technology from the Chisholm Institute, an Associate Diploma in Applied Science (Stock and Meat Inspection) from the Queensland Agricultural College, and a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management from Flinders University.

What we do

We provide certainty in the safety and integrity of the NSW food supply chain by:

  • regulating and measuring food safety across the food industry
  • managing food related incidents
  • implementing safe food handling advice in collaboration with our stakeholders.

To deliver on our promise of ‘safer food, clearer choices’ the Food Authority regulates businesses to keep food safe, administers food safety and labelling laws, and empowers consumers and the food industry to handle food safely.

The Food Authority administers State and national food legislation. This includes the national Food Standards Code and the Food Act 2003 (NSW) as well as a range of food safety schemes in the Food Regulation 2015, which regulate key industry sectors.

Food regulation in NSW plays an integral role in ensuring that food is safe for consumption, correctly labelled and that consumers are provided with information that helps them make informed choices about the food they eat.

A well-designed and effectively implemented regulatory framework delivers long-term benefits for industry, consumers and the broader economy.

Administering the requirements of the Food Act 2003 helps ensure food is both safe and suitable for human consumption and prevents misleading or deceptive conduct in connection with the labelling, advertising and sale of food.

We protect the community by:

  • applying the Food Standards Code, including labelling and advertising compliance
  • inspecting food premises, vehicles and equipment used for the handling and transportation of food
  • auditing and verifying statutory food safety requirements.

The Food Authority also educates consumers on food safety by:

  • encouraging good food handling practices
  • sharing information on food safety
  • providing information on food labelling.

Ensuring food safety means administering and enforcing food regulations, but we also need to achieve a balance between maximising food safety outcomes for consumers and minimising food businesses’ costs of complying with regulation.

How we work

Aims and objectives

The Food Authority’s aims and objectives are to:

  • ensure the safety and integrity of the food supply chain in NSW by regulating and monitoring food safety, managing food related incidents such as foodborne illness outbreaks and participating in safe food handling promotions – in conjunction with other government agencies, industry and local councils
  • contribute to the development and implementation of trans-Tasman food policies
  • be actively involved in applications and proposals to amend the Food Standards Code
  • establish food safety schemes for higher-risk foods and businesses through a process of risk analysis
  • educate consumers by providing information on good food handling practices and assistance in understanding food labels
  • lead the way on national policy initiatives such as the disclosure of nutrition information in fast food outlets.

For details see Food Safety Strategy 2015-2021
 

Science at the Food Authority

Science has an important role to play in the Food Authority fulfilling its mission.

The Food Authority is an evidence-led organisation. This means it strives to ensure that all decisions are based on sound evidence and science.

With increasing complexity in food production, supply and consumption, it's what the public, industry and government both need and expect.

The Food Authority's scientists contribute to:

  • monitoring and evaluating foods and processes
  • understanding the risk of food business activities
  • development of standards and regulations
  • engaging with industry
  • programs to inform consumers
  • collaborative research
  • issues management. 
     

For details see science, surveys and evaluations.
 

 Ensuring compliance

The NSW Food Authority works in conjunction with 128 councils across NSW, the Office of Environment and Heritage (in respect of Kosciusko National Park), Lord Howe Island Board (in respect of Lord Howe Island) and Food Authority (in respect of Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and the unincorporated far west), under the Food Regulation Partnership to administer all aspects of the:

  • Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code
  • NSW Food Act 2003
  • State’s food safety programs.

There are around 55,000 food businesses in NSW and the Food Authority licenses around 14,500 of these.

Food safety programs target food safety risks throughout the food supply chain and are tailored to individual industries, sectors or businesses. The programs incorporate national standards and are introduced by regulation under the Food Act 2003.

To help keep food safe we:

  • conduct risk based surveillance of all food industry sectors
  • improve compliance of the NSW food industry with food regulations
  • benchmark and verify NSW food industry performance.

The Food Authority ensures that industry complies with food safety programs by licensing or recording notification of food businesses in NSW, auditing and inspecting their operations regularly and where necessary, penalising non-compliance.

For details see the NSW DPI Biosecurity and Food Safety Compliance Policy and Enforcement Policy.
 

Consulting with industry

Industry Consultative Committees have also been established to provide expert advice to the Food Authority and the Minister on a range of food safety and regulation matters. These are:

Links with other agencies

The Food Authority values its vital links with other agencies at State and national level particularly NSW Ministry of Health, the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, the NSW Office of Fair Trading and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), and supports local government, which conducts essential enforcement work through Environmental Health Officers (EHOs).
 

Food Safety Strategy

Safe food is big business in NSW.

The value of the NSW Food industry is over $110 billion annually representing 24% of Gross State Product.

Effective food safety and food quality management underpins confidence in Australia’s food industry, and the Food Authority makes an important contribution to ensuring food safety in NSW.

Food safety is a key contributor to economic growth and is maintained through a top to bottom commitment to putting food safety first by preventing, managing and mitigating risks to ensure food is safe and correctly labelled.

The NSW Government’s Food Strategy shows our plan and vision for this important industry over the next 6 years.

Our goal is to make sure that food businesses continue to contribute to NSW’s economic growth and prosperity by reducing foodborne illnesses and delivering superior-quality food to local and international consumers.

To find out how we aim to deliver on this commitment see: