Food Safety Information Council Ltd Annual Report 2021-22


Chair’s Report

In 2022 we are delighted to celebrate our 25th anniversary of the Food Safety Information Council Ltd and providing food safety information to the Australian Community.

Once again, we have had a highly successful year.  Australian Food Safety Week 2021 ‘Food safety – be prepared’ reached a print, radio, TV and online media audience of over 4 million. Our TV and radio community service announcements were shown nationally from November until the end of January and our videos shown in medical practices over the Summer. We also produced a separate First Nations’ Food Safety Campaign for indigenous radio nationally.

I would particularly like to thank our members First for Training the Gold Sponsor for Australian Food Safety Week and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation who sponsored the consumer research on chicken myth busting. This campaign was one of two finalists in the NGO category of the Public Affairs Asia and PRCA APAC Gold Standards Awards 2022.

We carried out a number of smaller campaigns throughout the year. Our member ACCORD sponsored Global Handwashing Day in October 2021 which included consumer research and the production of a video of school children using the Glitterbug system to demonstrate handwashing. We would also like to thank the Australian Government for their grant for National Science Week in August 2022 to present virtual events to science and home economics teachers, environmental health professionals, indigenous communities and families abut fermenting and preserving food in glass.

The year has not been without its challenges with increased workload due to natural disaster and volunteers affected by COVID. We applied unsuccessfully for more than a million dollars in both Australian Government and private organisational grants. With the latest report on the Cost of Foodborne Illness in Australia prepared for Food Standards Australia New Zealand by ANU finding there are 4.67 million cases, 47,900 hospitalisations, 38 deaths and a cost of $2.1 billion annually our work is an essential part of reducing these figures. We have written to the incoming Minister for Health and are hoping the current Australian Government will see the benefits of our work by restoring our funding.

Finally, I would like to thank the Board, our Committee members, our sponsors and all our members for the time and commitment they give to our organisation in helping Australians keep food safe.

Cathy Moir
Food Safety Information Council Ltd

19 October 2022

Objective 1 Conduct a successful Australian Food Safety Week and Summer campaign as well other relevant campaigns throughout the year

While all Board members contribute to this objective the Communication Committee provides strategic and day to day expertise.

The Committee Chair is Lydia Buchtmann and members:

Doriena Parsons – Communications and Marketing Specialist

Annabel Selby-Jones – Communication Manager Australian Chicken Meat Federation

Samantha Smith – National Communications Officer, Environmental Health Australia

Jason Van Ballegooyen – Section Manager, Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Australian Food Safety Week 2021 was held from 13 – 20 November 2021. The theme was ‘Food safety – be prepared’ and aimed at building resilience in the community, especially after disasters, by setting up a basic food safety toolbox and encouraging public engagement with food safety courses. This followed by a Summer campaign. The campaign reached:

  • A print media audience 1,064,099
  • A radio and TV audience 1,388,800
  • 1,549,573 unique visitors on online media

Advertising sales rate value of this media if purchased was $1,655,463 giving a return on investment of 331:1.

Our radio spots were played nationally 5,441 times on 288 stations and our TV spots were played 1596 times on metropolitan stations and 1700 times on regional stations. Our video was also played in medical practices and pharmacies in December and January reaching an audience of over 20 million. A First Nations campaign, designed by an elder, played on indigenous radio nationally. This campaign was one of two finalists in the NGO category of the Public Affairs Asia and PRCA APAC Gold Standards Awards 2022.

Our National Science Week 13 to 21 August event ‘Good bugs, bad bugs – preserving and fermenting food in glass’. Our key messages were that some bacteria are good – for example they live in our gut and help us digest food or they help us preserve food safely through fermentation. Other bacteria can make us very sick through food poisoning and consumers could learn how to avoid being one of the estimated 4.1 million cases a year in Australia through simple actions like handwashing, correct cooking and refrigeration temperatures and stopping bacteria in raw food contaminating other food.

We held a Zoom live event for Science and Home Economics teachers on 10 August prior to National Science Week presented by our Scientific Director Assoc Professor Julian Cox about fermenting and preserving food in glass safely including classroom exercises concerning fermenting Kimchi. 70 teachers registered for this event and a recording was sent to Australian Science Teachers Association members (13,557 members on Facebook) and Home Economics Institute of Australia (930 members on Facebook). Conservatively, if the 70 teachers registered for the event presented to only 1 of their classes of 30 students 2100 would have seen it.

An animated video for families and younger children on Good bugs bad bugs has posted on Facebook and YouTube and has been viewed 206 times. Two Facebook live events with Q&As were hosted with our member Environmental health Australia on Saturday 13 August with our Scientific Director Dr Julian Cox on fermenting and preserving food in glass safely (112 viewed live) and on Monday 15 August by our Communication Director Lydia Buchtmann on the history of preserving food in glass (127 viewed live) Recordings of all 3 events were sent to the 1500 subscribers to our e-newsletter.

Specific Science Week and Good Bugs Bad Bugs messages were developed by First Nation presenters on the Jam Pakt radio program distributed to 265 National Indigenous Radio Stations and those Community stations with First Nation programs. Presented by Jonzy on 11 August and Naomi on 18 August. A media release about preserving and fermenting food safely and publicising our events was issued through the Science Media Centre to 1500 journalists on 8 August. This resulted in 15-minute radio interviews by Lydia Buchtmann on 19 ABC radio stations in NSW prior to and during Science Week reaching and audience of 185,000 listeners (independent Meltwater media analysis).

In addition, we issued another 9 media releases during the year about not picking and eating wild mushrooms, food safety and gardening, World Food Safety Day, fundraisers, school lunchboxes, back to Uni food safety, bulk cooking winter warmers and food safety in floods and power outages. Many of the media and consumer enquiries we received throughout the year were about food safety in natural disasters. We pre-recorded food safety interviews with ABC emergency on this issue and also developed with a group of students an Apple version of an app that works offline.

Objective 2: Ensure our work is based on scientific evidence, including identifying and dealing with emerging risks.

While all of the Board members contribute to this Objective, the Scientific Committee is primarily responsible for meeting it. That Committee meets outside of, or just prior to Board meetings to draft, refine and discuss the scientific merit and veracity of press releases and other information. The Committee deliberations are shared with the Board to further refine and finalise information for public consumption. The Scientific Committee brings a diversity of expertise and experience to bear on this Objective:

Dr Julian Cox, Honorary Associate Professor, UNSW Sydney

Dr Patricia Desmarchelier, food safety consultant

Karen Ferres, A/Executive Director, Health Protection & Licensing Services, SA Health

Zoe Bartlett, Senior Microbiologist, Food Safety and Microbiology, FSANZ

Brigitte Cox, retired (ex-CSIRO)

Dr Sheri Cooper, Lecturer, Southern Cross University

Alongside merit and veracity of releases, the committee makes ongoing effort to ensure currency, updating material on existing topics while seeking to expand coverage of food safety issues, including emerging risks. Examples include risk associated with backyard eggs, a phenomenon which grew under COVID19, greater awareness around parasites, especially associated with seafood, the growing tension between maintenance of food safety and reduction in food waste, and the impact of climate change.

The Committee is also looking to review and revise all of the Council’s published material, including the web site.

Finally, the Committee is exploring the development of local recipes that integrate food safety messaging, aligned with an initiative from a similar US-based organisation. More broadly, The Committee and Council is looking to leverage scientific and technical content from related organisations globally, to bring a greater range of resources to the public.

Objective 3: Secure sufficient funding for operational and educational activities and comply with our reporting and tax requirements

All of the Food Safety Information Council Board is responsible for managing this objective.

The Board met 11 times during 2021/22 and consists of:

  • Cathy Moir Chair and Company Secretary (10/10 meetings)
  • Brigitte Cox Vice-Chair 10/10 meetings)
  • Lydia Buchtmann Director and Chair of the Communications Committee (10/10 meetings)
  • Fiona Fleming 8/10
  • Dean McCullum Director and Chair of the Membership Committee (7/10 meetings)
  • Dr Julian Cox, Director and Chair of the Scientific Committee (9/10 meetings)
  • Dr Andrew Mathieson, Director (8/10 meetings)
  • ProfessorShokoofeh Shamsi Director (7/10 meetings)

Our Annual General Meeting was held in October 2021 and our Annual Planning Day to plan for the year ahead and to choose the theme for Australian Food Safety Week 2022 was held in May 2022. Both were by video conference.

The total equity in our bank accounts at 30 June 2022 was $63,535.92 (down from $68,590.01 the previous year) which includes $20,000 kept aside to cover any costs should we ever need to wind up the organisation. We had a slight deficit of $3,354.09 in 2021/22 compared with a surplus of $10,346.10 in 2020/21 the difference due to a delay in sending of member subscription invoices before the end of the financial year due to volunteer absences.

Our annual GST activity statement for 2021/22 was submitted to the ATO in October 2022 and a refund of $408 due.

Our 2020/21 annual information statement was lodged with the Australian Charity and Not- for-profits Commission in December 2021 meeting the deadline.

Membership of the Australian Charity Guide’s group of CEOs from charities and non-profits has enabled us to take part in professional development on Board governance, financial controls, grant writing, and search engine optimisation as well as student projects on funding options, application development and social media improvements.

Objective 4 Increase the number of and engage with our membership.

Shokoofeh Shamsi is Chair of the Membership Committee with day to day administration by Lydia Buchtmann

We currently have 49 members with the loss of Australian Pasteurised Eggs who ceased trading during the pandemic and the loss of 3 individual volunteer members who had other commitments. We are pleased to welcome 3 new volunteer members: Kee Chi, Doug Lau, Anna Liza Navarro from Chartered Accountants ANZ.  They will be assisting us with the accounting, financial and governance skills.

Members continue to be highly engaged in our work either contributing time or sponsoring our campaigns. It was pleasing to be able to attend events again and meet more of our stakeholder and members especially the virtual Seafood Directions Conference September 2021, the AIFST Convention in July 2022 and the Environmental Health Association NSW Conference in August 2022.

Current members are:

Professional organisations: Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Dietitians Association of Australia, Environmental Health Australia

Consumer organisations: Choice

Companies: Arytza Australasia, Catercare, Ecolab, Elanco Australasia, First for Training, Gourmet Guardian, Merieux Nutrisciences, On Solution, Symbio Australia, Whiteley Corporation

Individuals: Kee Chi, Julian Cox (Scientific Committee Chair), Maria Deckys, Doug Lau, Tressna Martin, Anna Liza Navarro , Roy Palmer, Lauren Preston, Jack Stratford, Ralph Greco, Graham Jopling, Andrew Matthews, Shookofeh Shamsi, Pam Young

Industry organisations: Accord Australasia, Australian Eggs, Australian Chicken Meat Federation Incorporated, Red Meat Advisory Council

Government: ACT Department of Health & Community Care, Department of Health Western Australia, Department of Health Tasmania, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, New South Wales Food Authority, Northern Territory Department of Health & Community Services, OzFood Net, Queensland Health, Safe Food Queensland, South Australia Department of Health

Life members (for long term contribution): Lydia Buchtmann (Communications Director), Brigitte Cox (Vice Chair), Patricia Desmarchelier – Food Safety Principles (former Technical Committee Chair), Michael Eyles (former Chair), Barbara Munce(former Public Officer), Rachelle Williams AnYi (Past Chair)

Local Government: Goyder Council, Surf Coast Shire Council and City of Wodonga Council.

Research organisations: CSIRO, Australian Food Safety Centre of Excellence