Food Safety Information Council Annual report 2020-2021

Food Safety Info Logo

Chair ‘s overview

We are pleased to report that 2020–21 has been another successful year for the Food Safety Information Council Ltd especially for our education campaigns. Our Australian Food Safety Week campaign ‘Food safety – it’s in your hands’ reached a total media audience of 2.1 million and the radio and TV Community Service announcements were broadcast nationally. In addition, our handwashing campaign reached a media audience of 2.6 million. Videos from both these campaigns were run on Tonic Health Media in medical centres during December 2020 and January 2021 where they reached an audience of 15 million.

At the end of the 2020-21 financial year the Food Safety Information Council had a net surplus of $12,046 having met all its liabilities building on a surplus of $4,918 from the previous financial year. Like all charities we faced an unknown year and had been deliberately cautious with our finances reducing both our campaign and administrative expenses. We were delighted with the continuing support of our members receiving an additional $3,424 in member fees this year This surplus will greatly assist with the increased costs we face this year with some campaign costs tripling due to high demand.

We would specifically like to thank our sponsors for 2020 – First for Training (Food Safety Week) and Ecolab and ACCORD for our handwashing research. We appreciate the continuing sponsorship from our members First for Training, On Solution and ACCORD for the current financial year.

In March 2021 we joined the Australian Charity Guide’s Not-for-Profit CEO group which allows us to link up and share ideas with other charities and not-for-profits in Australia and New Zealand. We have greatly benefitted through this partnership which helped us identify potential sponsors, independently audited our website and SEO, provided training on cybersecurity and has given us the opportunity to work with student groups to build a food safety app, improve our social media and identify other funding sources.

We were particularly saddened to hear of the death of our former Chair, Professor Tom McMeekin AO, in September 2021. Tom chaired the Council from April 2004 until 2007 and brought his extensive knowledge or microbiology and his sense of humour. He will be missed.

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

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

With the sponsorship from our member First for Training and in-kind contributions from Media Heads and Tonic Health Media we were able to run a successful Australian Food Safety Week 2020 ‘Food Safety – it’s in your hands’ as well as the following Summer campaign until the end of January 2021.

The key messages were that food poisoning is a serious risk and everybody’s responsibility and that all Australians are encouraged to take some food safety training. We specifically targeted young people, food handlers, secondary schools, volunteer food handlers and university/college students.

This campaign reached an audience of:

  • press/magazine audience of 191,815
  • a radio audience of 51,000 and online articles that reached 463,268 unique visitors.
  • our radio spots were played nationally 5,441 times on 288 markets/stations value of $143,148 if purchased.
  • our TV spots were played 1596 times on metropolitan stations, 1300 times on regional and 339 on Sky Racing with a value of $191,598 if purchased. Online articles reached 463,268 unique visitors.
  • Tonic Health Media played our hand washing video and TV CSA  at no charge in 1,747 Medical Centres where 6,988 GPs work from mid-December 2020 until the end of January 2021 reaching an audience of 10.8 million a month and creating $59,420 media value if purchased
  • Provisual included our messages at no charge on their schools canteen poster which was sent to 6,000 schools nationally

The 2020 Australian Food Safety Week campaign ‘Excellent eggs – handle them safely’ was a national finalist in the Public Relations Institute’s Golden Target awards in November 2020. With the judges concluding “A clear submission with clear objectives, audiences and messages. A good range of communication materials and tactics delivered for a small budget. This campaign effectively addressed a food safety issue while helping position the sponsor, Australian Pasteurised Eggs, as part of the solution. Strong results for an important message.”

We also ran a national handwashing education campaign for consumers which was launched in October 2020 using media, posters and a video with sponsorship from our industry members Ecolab and ACCORD. The campaign was based on consumer handwashing research conducted nationally August 2020 which found

  • poorest knowledge in young people
  • 75% of respondents between 18 and 34 years said they always washed their hands after going to the toilet (compared with 89% of over 50s)
  • 55% of respondents between 18 and 34 years said they always washed their hands before handling food (compared with 61% of over 50s)

The handwashing campaign generated:

  • 24 media items nationally reaching a total audience 1,084,846
  • 1 TV item on Ch 10 and 13 radio items nationally reaching an audience (where recorded) 377,000
  • 10 items on online news reaching an audience of 707,846

The value if this media was purchased would be $527,576

Throughout the year we also issued advice through the Science Media Centre on: raw fish safety, not to buy or sell illegal food on social media, Christmas and Summer entertaining, bush fire and power outages food safety advice, back to school lunchboxes, back to Uni handwashing, death cap mushrooms, norovirus and World Food Safety Day.

More than half of the media interviews we do are in response to media enquiries. This year major topics have included: date marking, food storage in fridge or pantry, unpasteurised cheeses, cleaning sponges and brushes, leftovers, dishwashers, food poisoning statistics and beansprouts.

Our Board member, Associate Professor Julian Cox, has been doing regular TV spots on Channel 7’s Morning Show covering food safety messages.

Social media is also an important medium for communicating with consumers with approximately 1,000 unique visitors use our website each day. We get 3,000 to 4,000 impressions on twitter each month and we have 4200 likes on Facebook. Our Google ads grants continues to drive users to our website and are receiving approximately 5,700 impressions a month.

We took part in a national live chat session with our member Environmental Health Australia for Australian Food Safety Week as well as an international session with them for World Food Safety Day in May 2021. Board members Lydia Buchtmann and Dr Andrew Mathieson presented at the Australian Seafood Summit in July 2021.

The Communication Committee is chaired by Lydia Buchtmann who is a member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia and has more than 30 years as head of communications at a number of organisations including Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The Committee members include: Doriena Parsons Communications and Marketing Specialist, Vicki Taylor Communication Specialist, Annabel Selby-Jones Communication Manager Australian Chicken Meat Federation and Jason Van Ballegooyen, Section Manager, Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

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

The Scientific Committee is chaired by Brigitte Cox who is a former CSIRO Alumni and members include Dr Trish Desmarchelier FASM OAM, Associate Professor Julian Cox from the University of NSW, Zoe Bartlett Senior Microbiologist, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and Karen Ferres from SA Health.

A watching brief was kept on reports of foodborne illness in Australia and internationally to ensure the Council’s key food safety messages for consumers are evidence based and related to local epidemiological information on foodborne illness and addressing factors contributing to foodborne illness in domestic settings versus food service and industry.

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 2020/21 and consists of:

  • Cathy Moir Chair and Company Secretary (11/11 meetings)
    Brigitte Cox Vice-Chair and Chair of the Scientific Committee (10/11 meetings)
    Lydia Buchtmann Director and Chair of the Communications Committee (11/11 meetings)
  • Dean McCullum Director and Chair of the Membership Committee (10/11 meetings)
  • Julian Cox ,Director (5/5 meetings)
  • Andrew Mathieson, Director 4/5 meetings)

Our Annual General Meeting was held in October 2020 and our Annual Planning Day to plan for the year ahead and choose the theme for Australian Food Safety Week 2021 was held in May 2021. Both were by video conference.

The total equity in our bank accounts at 30 June 2021 was $ 68,590.01 (up from 56,543.91 the previous year) which includes $20,000 kept aside to cover any costs should we ever need to wind up the organisation.

Our annual GST activity statement for 2020/21 was submitted to the ATO in July 2021 and a refund of $401 received.

Our 2019/20 annual information statement was lodged with the Australian Charity and Not- for-profits Commission in December 2020 meeting the deadline.

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

Dean McCullum is Chair of the Membership Committee with day to day administration by Lydia Buchtmann

We currently have 50 members with a reduction of 1 individual member due to other commitments. Members continue to be highly engaged in our work either contributing time or sponsoring our campaigns.

Current members are:

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

Consumer organisations: Choice

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

Individuals: Julian Cox, Maria Deckys, Tressna Martin, Roy Palmer, Lauren Preston, Jack Stratford, Ralph Greco, Graham Jopling, Andrew Matthews, Shookofeh Shamsi, Pam Young

Industry organisations: Accord Australasia, Australian Eggs, Australian Pasteurised 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 and Technical Committee Chair), Patricia Desmarchelier – Food Safety Principles (former Technical Committee Chair), Michael Eyles (former Chair), 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

Attachment Food Safety Information Council Financial Reports 2020-21